Barack Obama will reduce the number of prisoners his country maintains in the Guantanamo Naval Base before the end of his term in office. Even when he will not be able to keep his electoral promise of closing the prison located in that Cuban territory, the U.S. president will try to leave there around 40 inmates out of the 242 that were in the installation when he reached the Oval Office.
According to reports by several media, the U.S. government will transfer four prisoners to Saudi Arabia in the next 24 hours. To date, the nationality of the prisoners who will be transferred had not been revealed.
The announcement took place after the recent statements by President-elect Donald Trump, who on his Twitter account said he was against the new releases because they were “extremely dangerous” persons.
There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 3 de enero de 2017
This Wednesday The New York Times had commented in an editorial on Obama’s intention to transfer some 18 detainees, authorized to travel to different nations that agreed to receive them. The daily pointed out that the outgoing administration would spare no efforts to achieve its purpose in the next days and described Trump’s position as erroneous, about which it said that he doesn’t seem aware of the risks and costs involved in keeping the prison open.
According to the New York paper, the detainees who will remain in Guantanamo include three who were sentenced in military courts and seven with pending charges before that authority. Meanwhile, 26 inmates are considered too dangerous to be released; but, according to government officials, processing them would be almost impossible due to their imprisonment for years without a trial, during which in addition they were tortured.
In the opinion of The New York Times, maintaining these prisoners for always in Guantanamo is unsustainable for a nation that affirms it adheres to the state of law and can only fuel the enmity of extremist groups around the world toward the United States.
Since Obama assumed the presidency he has unsuccessfully tried to close down the Guantanamo prison camp, to a great extent due to the Republican opposition in Congress. The GOP representatives have blocked the president’s plans and initiatives regarding this, which, according to the newspaper, has cost U.S. taxpayers more than 5.6 billion dollars throughout the years.
Despite this, Obama was able to gradually reduce the number of detainees with transfers to third countries, until there were less than 60 left who will remain there. The initial figure of prisoners after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was close to 800 men.
The New York Times says that what’s most important now is the review in the courts of the demands made on behalf of those detained without a prior process. J. Wells Dixon, a lawyer of the Center for Constitutional Rights cited by the paper, said that the federal courts will be the last and best hope for the men of Guantanamo who Obama leaves behind.
However, the panorama is complicated as a consequence of a legal decision from 2011 that has made it more difficult for the detainees in the Naval Base to contest in civil courts their detention. To this is added the fact that the incoming government seems more prone to maintaining and even expanding the prison than finding a just way out for the detainees.
Consult the OnCuba special on the issue: