OSCE human rights chief again urges US to close Guantanamo Detention Facility

Photo: OSCE human rights chief again urges US to close Guantanamo Detention Facility / OSCE

Ahead of tomorrow's 12th anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees to the Guantanamo Detention Facility, Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), again urged the United States to close the facility, the OSCE website said.

"Despite repeated promises by United States authorities to close the facility, it continues to operate through another anniversary," Lenarčič said. "The United States has committed itself to guarantee fundamental human right in the fight against terrorism, including the right to a fair trial, and to prohibit arbitrary detention. The continued failure to meet that commitment is what President Barack Obama himself has described as a 'stain on America's reputation'."

"The detainees should either be prosecuted promptly, in accordance with international fair trial standards, or released," Lenarčič added.

Lenarčič described the transfer of 11 detainees to third countries since August 2013 as a positive development over the past year, while calling on the U.S. Congress to go further in removing obstacles to the closure of the facility. While the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, adopted in December, eases restrictions on the transfer of detainees to other countries, it maintains the ban on their transfer to the United States for any purpose, including prosecution.

Of the 155 remaining Guantanamo detainees, only eight have been convicted or are undergoing proceedings before military commissions. About half have been approved for transfer to their home or third countries, yet continue to be held, while the remainder have effectively been placed in indefinite detention without charge.

Upon an invitation from the United States, an ODIHR delegation visited the Guantanamo Detention Facility and met with U.S officials in August 2013. The delegation also met with civil society representatives and the defense counsel of some detainees. The Office is currently carrying out an assessment of the human rights situation of the detainees in Guantanamo and will produce a public report on its findings and recommendations later this year.

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