For Immediate Release
Closing Guantanamo Remains National Security Priority as 8th Anniversary Approaches
WASHINGTON - This Monday, January 11, marks eight years since the Bush
administration transferred the first prisoners to the U.S. detention
facility at Guantánamo Bay. Human Rights First reiterates its support
for the Obama Administration's plans to turn the page on this
profoundly misguided policy by closing the facility and ending the
prolonged detention of prisoners without charge or trial, a policy
which has undermined U.S. national security interests and tarnished the
nation's image as a beacon of respect for human rights and the rule of
In a statement issued today, Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino notes:
"Closing the Guantánamo detention facility is a necessary and
important step toward strengthening counterterrorism efforts and
rebuilding the United States' standing as a nation committed to the
rule of law.
"Though efforts to close the Guantánamo detention facility have
faced a number of political obstacles during the past year, we welcome
President Obama's continued commitment to shutter the facility quickly
"The Obama Administration should work closely with Yemeni officials
to address current security concerns and to minimize potential risk
before reinstating transfers there. With all transfers the
administration can and should take steps to mitigate risk by focusing
on expanding risk assessment efforts, monitoring, and other security
programs, including allotting sufficient resources to successfully
reintegrate former detainees into society.
"To fully restore the rule of law and rebuild strained relationships
with foreign allies, the Administration must also commit to driving the
number of detainees held without charge down to zero and to pursuing
timely federal criminal prosecutions of those alleged terrorists who
remain at Guantánamo."
"The day the Bush administration decided to use Guantánamo as a
means to put prisoners beyond the law, it handed America's terrorist
enemies a powerful recruiting tool which they have used successfully to
lure fighters to their cause. Every day the facility stays open is a
gift to al Qaeda's propaganda machine. We support the President's
continued commitment to eliminating this national security liability
and restoring America's reputation by closing Guantánamo."
Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.