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For immediate release: Thurs Jan 21st, 2016
Guantánamo remains open for torture, seven years after Obama signed order to close prison
Tomorrow marks seven years since President Obama signed an Executive Order to close Guantánamo Bay. Nearly 100 men are still being held there without charge or trial, while US government lawyers are fighting the release of video footage showing hunger striking detainees being force-fed.
On January 22nd 2009 when signing the order, President Obama said that he was issuing the order to “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great even in the midst of war, even in dealing with terrorism.” 14 years since the first detainees were sent to the prison, and seven years after President Obama signed the Executive Order to close it, 100 men are still detained. President Obama’s staff are expected to deliver a plan to shutter the prison in the coming weeks, which could involve moving men to prisons on US soil.
Tomorrow is also the deadline for the U.S. Government to appeal a federal judge’s order that it must release videotapes showing the force-feeding of hunger-striking detainees at Guantánamo. If the government decides not to appeal, the footage will be made available to the public. The Guantánamo authorities have long faced criticism for the force-feeding of detainees engaged in peaceful hunger-strikes in protest against their detention without trial. After it emerged that the prison had been video-taping such procedures, one detainee, who has since been released, had those videos disclosed to his lawyers. Sixteen major media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, AP and Reuters, are seeking release of the tapes.
So far, only the court and security-cleared lawyers at international human rights organization Reprieve have been allowed to review the tapes. However, the US Government has been ordered by a federal judge to release a censored version of them, and will have to either do so or appeal by the 22 January deadline.
Cori Crider, Reprieve attorney for Guantanamo detainees, said: “I remember 22 January 2009 very clearly – we were so hopeful that finally the nightmare would be over and my clients – and all those other men held without charge or trial at Guantanamo – would be able to go home. It is hard to believe that, seven years later, progress is slow and Gitmo remains very much open for business. President Obama has called his administration ‘the most transparent in history’ and yet his government is fighting tooth and nail to stop the tapes showing abuse of my client being released to the public. People need to know what has been and continues to go on in their name at Gitmo – President Obama must stop hiding the truth and release the tapes.” [emphasis added]
Notes to editors
1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8140. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064.