EU: Increase pressure on US to close Guantánamo


EU: Increase pressure on US to close Guantánamo

(Brussels, 11 January 2013) As the world marks the eleventh anniversary of the opening of the US detention centre at Guantánamo Bay, and four years since President Obama pledged to close the facility within a year of entering office, Amnesty International has challenged the European Union to increase pressure on the USA to resolve the situation. Elsewhere, the organisation has also pointed to the recent European Court of Human Rights judgment on a German former CIA detainee, Khaled El-Masri, which found that US staff had subjected him to torture and enforced disappearance. 

“These two anniversaries are a sorry indictment of the continuing blatant human rights abuse by the USA”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “The European Court’s El-Masri judgment ought to shame the US authorities into admitting the full extent of their abuses and ending them. And it should shame EU countries into admitting their participation. These governments, led by the EU, must substantially increase pressure on the USA finally to close Guantánamo.”

Instead of closing the facility, President Obama appears to have maintained the unilateral ‘global war’ doctrine established by George W Bush. Indefinite detentions at Guantánamo persist under this framework. The Obama administration has also applied this doctrine to revive military commissions to try some Guantánamo detainees. Six of them face the risk of a death sentence after military commission trials which fall short of international fair trial standards. All six suffered enforced disappearance before their transfer to Guantánamo and at least two underwent the ‘water-boarding’ torture technique.

The European Court of Human Rights’ judgment of 13 December 2012 centres on the case of Khaled El-Masri, a German national handed over to the CIA by Macedonian authorities in 2004 and flown to enforced disappearance and further abuse in secret US custody in Afghanistan. The Court expressly found that US personnel had subjected El-Masri to torture at Skopje airport and to enforced disappearance until his release four months later. Torture and enforced disappearance are crimes under international law. 

For more information please contact:

Peter Clarke 
Media & Communications Officer
European Institutions Office
Amnesty International

Tel: +32 (0) 2 548 2773

[email protected]