Biden reviews Guantanamo prison; aims to close it before end of presidency

“We are pleased to hear that the Biden administration wants to review the United States policy of almost 20 years of indefinite detention without charge of Muslim men at an offshore prison."

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A revival of an Obama-era goal, President Joe Biden announced the launch of a formal review of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The goal is to shut down the controversial prison before the end of Biden’s presidency, Jen Psaki, White House spokeswoman, said.

The military prison, which was set up at the Guantanamo Naval Station to detain foreign suspects after 9/11 almost 20 years ago, is the topic of ongoing and historic human rights violations, according to human rights advocates.

“We are pleased to hear that the Biden administration wants to review the United States policy of almost 20 years of indefinite detention without charge of Muslim men at an offshore prison,” Daphne Eviatar, director of the Security with Human Rights Program at Amnesty International USA, said. “For almost two decades, the United States has denied justice to the hundreds of men the government has kept detained at Guantánamo Bay indefinitely, without charge or trial. Forty men remain there today. It is long past time to close it down.”

Amnesty International continues to highlight many of the “harsh interrogation methods that critics say amounted to torture.” In a recent report release in January, the grassroots human rights organization called for “renewed urgency on this issue, accompanied by a genuine commitment to truth, accountability and remedy, as well as a recognition that indefinite detention at Guantánamo must not be allowed to persist any longer,” according to a press release.

While the formal review of the prison could result in an executive action to be signed by President Biden, the plan as to how he will close it has yet to be revealed. Reuters reported that an “immediate impact of a new approach could be to reinstate, in some form, Obama’s Guantanamo closure policy.”

“We are undertaking an NSC process to assess the current state of play that the Biden administration has inherited from the previous administration, in line with our broader goal of closing Guantanamo,” Emily Horne, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said. “The NSC will work closely with the Departments of Defense, State, and Justice to make progress toward closing the GTMO facility, and also in close consultation with Congress.”

No matter the plan, human rights advocates said the prison needs to be shut down “once and for all.”

“President Biden must commit to finishing what former President Obama failed to do: putting an end to this human rights atrocity by immediately transferring detainees not charged with crimes to countries where their human rights will be respected, providing fair trials to anyone charged, without resort to the death penalty, and finally shuttering this discriminatory and unlawful detention facility once and for all,” Eviatar said.

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