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Human Rights Watch calls for closure of Guantanamo detention centre

Published:Sunday | May 26, 2013 | 11:05 AM

WASHINGTON, May 26, CMC – A major human rights group has described the Guantánamo detention center in Cuba as “an unmitigated disaster” and has called for its closure.

In testifying before the United States Senate Armed Services Committee on the laws of war and the use of military force, Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, claimed that the Obama administration has sought to use the for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to “rationalize prolonged detention without charge or trial at the US military detention facility at Guantánamo Bay.”

Seven days after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, then President George W. Bush signed the AUMF, a joint resolution passed by the US Congress that empowered the president to use force against those responsible for the attacks.

More than 11 years later, Human Rights Watch said the law is still in effect.

Roth said Guantánamo should be closed and that the detainees held there should either be tried in US federal court or released.

“Congress’ insistence on using military commissions at Guantánamo has been an unmitigated disaster,” he told the Committee.

He claimed the use of military commissions at Guantánamo was “a scar on America’s reputation” was “unsustainable" and it would not be enough to simply close Guantánamo and move the detainees to a prison in the United States where they would still be held without charge, adding that “Guantánamo North” is not the solution.

On Thursday, US President Barack Obama lifted a moratorium on repatriating low-level inmates from Guantánamo Bay to Yemen.In a surprise move, he also announced the creation of a new military position to spearhead the transfer of the detainees.

Human Rights Watch said Obama’s new call to transfer detainees from Guantánamo and wind down the “war” with al-Qaeda could “jumpstart a US counterterrorism policy more consistent with US human rights obligations”

But the group said the president “failed to clarify many issues related to the US targeted killing program, such as how the US determines who can be targeted and under what circumstances.”

“President Obama’s decision to lift his own ban on detainee transfers to Yemen suggests he may finally have the political will to follow through with his pledge to close Guantánamo, butut his reaffirmation that the US is at war with unnamed and undefined ‘associated forces’ suggests little hope for real transparency,” Roth said.