Human Rights First welcomes the news that the Obama administration is preparing to use its flexibility to transfer five Guantanamo detainees to the custody of Qatar. These detainees, allegedly members of the Taliban, are in the process of being cleared for release with appropriate post-transfer security and humane treatment measures. Although decisions regarding whether to transfer particular detainees must be made on a case-by-case basis, the pending transfer shows movement in the right direction towards closing Guantanamo, according to Human Rights First.
“The administration should have the flexibility to resolve individual Guantanamo detainee cases in a manner that is consistent with the rule of law and our national security interests,” said Human Rights First’s Dixon Osburn.
Congressionally-imposed Guantanamo transfer restrictions have previously prevented some transfers out of the detention facility, but the most recent version of the restrictions – included in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act – contain an expanded waiver that provides more flexibility for transfers.
“Three years ago, you signed an executive order calling for the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to be closed within one year. On that day, many of us stood behind you in support of your commitment to close a prison synonymous with torture and second-class justice,” wrote the group in their letter to the President. “Under [the new] guidelines, your administration can transfer detainees cleared for release to their home or to third countries if the Secretary of Defense issues a waiver in the interest of our national security demonstrating that measures will be taken to substantially mitigate the risk of transfer. We ask that you direct your administration to exercise this authority immediately and fully to demonstrate your good faith commitment to closing Guantanamo.”