January 11, 2023 was the 21st anniversary of the day when the United States shipped the first blindfolded, shackled and gagged men suspected of terrorism to the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facilities. The number of detainees has shrunk from a high of 780. As of March 8, 2023 the total number of detainees at Guantanamo is 31 and those approved for transfer now total 17 with security assurances, including Toffiq al-Bihani (see below). However, our government has so far been unable to secure agreements from other countries to take them. Three are held in indefinite detention, “forever prisoners” thought to be too dangerous to release but never charged with any crime. Ten are in military commission pre-trial (!) proceedings, including the five accused of the New York World Trade Towers attacks. One has been convicted of crimes.
Group 11 is urging President Biden to close Guantanamo Bay Prison. We are urging the President to transfer the 18 detainees who have already been approved for transfer with security assurances, including Toffiq al-Bihani. All other detainees should be released or tried in civilian Federal courts without recourse to the death penalty.
Group 11 advocates for the transfer of Toffiq al-Bihani, a Saudi Arabian citizen who has been held in Guantánamo without charge or fair trial since 2003. The US Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA “black sites” found that al-Bihani had been subjected to torture during his confinement. The US government has long since made it clear that it has no intention of charging him and indeed he has been cleared for transfer since 2010.
The US government’s use of indefinite detention without charge as a response to 9/11 has been unlawful from the outset. This detention regime must be brought to an end, and any proposal for its continuation or expansion condemned.
The impunity that persists in relation to the torture, enforced disappearance and other human rights violations committed against these detainees is outrageous. Torture and enforced disappearance are crimes under international law.
Security with Human Rights Campaign
Amnesty believes that the United States can preserve its national security without sacrificing the human rights that it is obligated by international law to respect. The U.S. government is required to respect and secure human rights, to investigate all human rights violations, and to bring those found to be responsible for such violations to justice. The goals of the Security with Human Rights Campaign include ending unlawful and abusive detention and surveillance practices that violate the rule of law. The Campaign seeks to ensure accountability for civilian deaths caused by air attacks and drone strikes. The Campaign opposes unfair trials by military commissions.
Guantánamo Bay detainees have suffered indefinite detention without being charged with any crimes. Furthermore, since September 11, 2001 at Guantánamo and other sites the U.S. Government has repeatedly violated prohibitions against torture and other cruel, unusual, inhumane or degrading treatment. Detainees at Guantánamo Bay must either be promptly charged and given fair trials in U.S. federal courts or released to countries where they will not be at risk of suffering human rights violations. Torture and other abusive treatment of detainees must stop, and those responsible must be held accountable.
Activists from Amnesty’s North Jersey group holding up Twitter #hashtags
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