“The injustice that is Guantanamo has been allowed to fester for twelve years now – twelve years too many. It is wholly unacceptable that the human rights violations by the US against those detained have gone unchecked for so long”
The EU’s and US’ broken promises: Guantanamo five years on
(Brussels, 22 January 2014) Five years after President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay, Amnesty International is urging the European Union (EU) to uphold its commitment to ensure that the United States (US) close the detention facility.
“The injustice that is Guantanamo has been allowed to fester for twelve years now – twelve years too many. It is wholly unacceptable that the human rights violations by the US against those detained have gone unchecked for so long” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.
In June 2009 the EU and US made a landmark joint statement on the closure of Guantanamo; and the EU and member states committed to assist the US by agreeing a framework to receive certain detainees in Europe. But since then a veil of silence has fallen over EU leaders.
In parallel, member states have consistently failed to fully investigate alleged human rights violations that have occurred on the EU’s own soil as part of the CIA-led rendition and secret detention programmes.
This is despite repeated calls for action by the Union’s own Parliament (EP), and the credible and mounting evidence (from international and national institutions, and non-governmental organisations, amongst others) of such complicity in illegal transfers, torture and detention of individuals, including the emergence of claims by new victims, such as Walid Bin Attash in Poland last year.
“The member states’ excuses are wearing thin. Victims must have justice now. The EU can no longer gloss over its role in human rights abuses committed on its own soil as part of the US-led “war on terror’’.”
Amnesty International is calling for EU leaders to pro-actively engage with President Obama on closing Guantanamo during his forthcoming visit to Brussels on 26 March. And to raise the plight of Guantanamo detainees Abu Zubaydah, at risk of indefinite detention, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, at risk of death penalty (both were allegedly detained in CIA secret detention on EU soil). Member states must also increase their efforts to resettle non-European detainees due to be released from Guantanamo who cannot be repatriated to their home states because of the risk of torture or death penalty.
The EU, at an institutional level, must also act on the EP’s recommendations and ensure its member states hold independent and impartial investigations into allegations of human rights violations carried out against people secretly detained on their territory. These findings should be made public, and anyone responsible for crimes under international law brought to justice.
Amnesty International's press release on Walid Bin Attash
More information on Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri can be found in the Individuals at Risk section of our Recommendations to the Greek presidency
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