U.S Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has offered new “guidelines” for transferring detainees from the battlefield to Guantanamo Bay, the controversial Cuba-based navy site used to detain terrorist suspects.
The memo comes three months after President Donald J. Trump announced he would reverse the previous administration’s plan to close the controversial naval base. As a presidential candidate, Trump promised to keep Guantanamo Bay open and fill it with “bad dudes.”
This WikiTribune news stub is dedicated to reporting on which detainees are sent to Guantanamo Bay, and how their release is decided, if it is ever.
Add important facts using EDIT STORY. Must properly cite secondary sources and properly attribute primary sources.
Who is detained in Guantanamo Bay?
- 779 prisoners was the greatest volume of inmates between 2004-2006, according to Amnesty International.
- The New York Times tallied the leading countries of origin, the top three being Afghanistan: 220, Saudi Arabia: 135, Yemen: 115 and Pakistan: 72
- According to a report by lawyer Mark Denbeaux, who is counsel to two Guantanamo detainees, 55 percent of detainees are deemed to have never commit hostile acts against the U.S. or allied forces. Roughly 8 percent of detainees in 2006 were deemed to be affiliated with Al Qaeda, the militant group that splintered off to form the beginnings of the Islamic State (Seton Hall University School of Law).
- More than 85 percent of Guantanamo inmates in 2006 were captured by Afghan Northern Alliance or Pakistani forces who profited up to $5,000 per “terrorist” who they turned over. By 2015, only 3 of the remaining 116 detainees were captured by U.S. forces (Guardian).
- President George W. Bush, who began to use Guantanamo as a detention center, transferred 532 inmates during his tenure, 35 percent of whom began to fight U.S. coalition forces upon their release. President Barack Obama transferred 131 inmates, 10 percent of whom returned to the fight (Reuters).
- President Donald J. Trump speculated that the U.S. may begin bringing prisoners from Syria and Iraq.
- President Barack Obama dwindled the Guantanamo population to 41 during his term.(New York Times). But he was unable to close the detention center, as promised in his campaign, after being blocked by congress.
- The Guantanmo Bay detainee population shrunk to 40 under Trump after Ahmed Muhammed Haza al-Darbi was transferred to Saudi Arabia in a plea deal arranged under the Obama administration.
How are detainees are treated?
- U.S. Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters that every detainee under the Trump administration would be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention, an international treaty that prohibits the torture of prisoners. Former President Obama banned enhanced interrogation techniques via executive order in 2009.
- Mattis’ assurances separate the Trump administration from that of George W. Bush, who supported “enhanced interrogation techniques” at Guantanamo Bay. This includes:
- Waterboarding, the simulation of drowning.
- Loud repetitive music (Der Spiegel).
- Force-feeding for those on hunger-strike, which could constitute torture according to the International Red Cross. Instances of rectal feeding and rehydration were reported in CIA black sites, outside of Guantanamo (Guardian)
- United Nations special rapporteur Nils Melzer claims torture still happens at Guantanamo. Without naming his source, Melzer says that alleged 9/11 co-conspirator Ammar al-Baluchi is being interrogated with techniques banned under international law. The Pentagon has strongly denied the allegations.
How are detainees released, if ever?
- Periodic Reviews is the program that gives detainees, who do not face charges, a chance to be transferred or possibly released. The initiative was established by former President Barack Obama via executive order in 2011, but did not begin until 2013. The Attorney General and Department of Defense govern the process, which can take several years.
- Guantanamo Bay inmates can petition U.S. federal judges to hear their case after the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that it was unconstitutional to deny habeas corpus to prisoners, even if they are deemed to be enemy combatants.