USA: renewed call for closure of 'cruel and degrading' Guantánamo on 16-year anniversary

There are still 41 detainees at the camp, most of whom have still not been charged with an offence © US Department of Defense

41 detainees still at camp, including Toffiq al-Bihani, a Yemeni man held without charge or trial since early 2003

‘This abominable detention facility must be shut down once and for all’ - Erika Guevara Rosas

On the 16th anniversary of the opening of the notorious detention facility at the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, Amnesty International has again called for the fair trial or immediate release of those detained there and closure of the facility.

Forty-one individuals are still detained at Guantánamo, all of whom have been in US custody for more than a decade. Most are held without charge and haven’t been brought to trial, while others are facing unfair trial by “military commissions”, with some facing the possibility of the death penalty.

To mark the 16th anniversary, Amnesty is highlighting the case of Toffiq al-Bihani, a Yemeni man held in Guantánamo without charge or trial since early 2003. The US authorities have made it clear they have no intention of charging him with any criminal offence. He has suffered torture or other ill-treatment, and years of indefinite detention.  

Mohamedou Ould Salahi, a former detainee at Guantánamo, said:

“I know from first-hand experience that the treatment of prisoners in Guantánamo is cruel and degrading. It is appalling that men like Toffiq al-Bihani continue to be held there. I stand with Amnesty International in calling for him to be transferred out of the prison.” 

Amnesty members worldwide are calling on the US Department of Defense to release Mr Al-Bihani from Guantánamo, to resolve all the other detentions there in line with international human rights law, and to close the detention centre. 

Erika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty International Americas Director, said:

“Over the years, Guantánamo has come to symbolise torture, rendition and indefinite detention without charge or trial - in complete violation of internationally-agreed standards of justice and human rights. Its closure is both essential and long overdue.

“It is unconscionable that Toffiq al-Bihani remains in Guantánamo Bay prison. His case illustrates how the detention centre at Guantánamo remains a place where human rights violations are rife.

“Toffiq al-Bihani should be transferred to a country that respects his human rights, and all other detentions at Guantánamo resolved in full compliance with international human rights law. This abominable detention facility must be shut down once and for all.”

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