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Close Guantánamo

NATASHA BECKLES, [email protected]

Close Guantánamo

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LONDON – Amnesty International has urged the United States to close the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba, saying it is time to “end human rights hypocrisy.”
 On Wednesday, Amnesty International said the continued operation of the US detention camp is a “prime example of the USA’s double standard on human rights.”
The human rights body noted that it is five years since US President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the facility.
“On 22 January, 2009, ordering the closure of Guantánamo within a year was among President Obama’s first official decisions after he came to office,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, director of Amnesty International’s Americas Programme.
“Five years later, this promise of change has become a human rights failure that threatens to haunt President Obama’s legacy, just as it has his predecessor’s,” she continued.
Guevara Rosas said 12 years after the first detainees were brought to Guantánamo, “strapped down in planes like cargo,” more than 150 men are still held there and most of them are held without charge or trial, adding that a few Guantánamo detainees face trial under a military commission system that does not meet international fair trial standards.
Of the almost 800 detainees who have been held there, Guevara Rosas said less than one per cent has been convicted by military commission, stating that the majority of those were the result of pre-trial plea bargains.
“The USA expects other countries to do what it refuses to – accept released detainees who cannot be repatriated,” she said.
 “If any other country was responsible for the human rights vacuum of Guantánamo, it would surely draw the USA’s condemnation,” she continued. “It’s long past time for the US authorities to end this double standard.”
Amnesty International calls on the US authorities to ensure independent and impartial investigations into all credible allegations of human rights violations carried out at Guantánamo and against detainees held elsewhere.
It said the findings should be made public, and anyone responsible for crimes under international law brought to justice, regardless of their current or former level of office. (CMC)