09 January 2007

Mark 5 Years of Guantanamo by Closing It

Guantanamo or as I called the scandal of Human rights have hosted its first detainee 5 years ago on the 11th of January 2002.

More than 775 detainees have been held in Guantanamo since January 11, 2002. After five years, no Guantanamo detainee have been charged with any transgression, much less a crime. Only some 75 of the 395 prisoners there at the moment are likely to face military tribunals held under a law passed by the US Congress last September.For the rest, there is the prospect of indefinite detention without trial.

So what has happened to the other 305 detainees during these five years?

Hundreds of illegally detained from around 30 different nationalities never faced a court of justice, consulted a lawyer or were even allowed to see their families.
After more than two years of detention, between August 2004 and March 2005, Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT), composed of three US military officers, reviewed the cases of 558 detainees. However, the detainees had no access to lawyers or to secret evidence used by the CSRT. The CSRT could use coerced evidence. The CSRTs judged 520 detainees to be "enemy combatants."

What is an enemy combatant? The general definition of an enemy combatant is "a person engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners during an armed conflict." But a September 5, 2006, Department of Defense directive on the Detainee Program added another sentence to the definition of unlawful combatant: "For the purposes of the war on terrorism, the term Unlawful Enemy Combatant is defined to include, but is not limited to, an individual who is or was part of or supporting Taliban or al Qaeda forces or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."

Hundreds of the detainees were sold to the US by bounty hunters or turned over by rival clan members, while high-level Taliban and al Qaeda operatives with the resources to buy their freedom got away.

According to Amnesty International, in an analysis of 500 detainees, a remarkably low number, only 5 percent, or about 25 detainees, were captured by US forces. Eighty-six percent, or about 430 detainees, were arrested by Pakistani forces or the Afghan Northern Alliance and turned over to US custody - often for a reward of thousands of dollars. The other 9 percent are not discussed in the Amnesty report. Many were sold to the United States to even scores or just for the money. Anyone living in Afghanistan - young or old - was fair game for sale to US forces. The oldest detainee shipped to Guantanamo was 75 and the youngest 10.

Detainees include: men who were arrested in Bosnia and have been cleared of wrongdoing by Bosnian courts; an Afghan who opposed the Taliban and joined the transitional government but was turned over to US forces by a rival clan; and more than a dozen Chinese Uighurs who have been slated for release but cannot be returned to China because they will likely be tortured. They have nowhere else to go and have been refused asylum in the US.

From the day it was hastily opened in 2002, the Guantánamo detention facility became a lightning rod of controversy for the United States. It sits at the center in the struggle between dealing with the threat of anti-American terrorism and the American ideal of providing constitutional protections to the accused.

In building a prison camp on a remote part of the U.S. Navy Base on Cuba's eastern tip, the Bush administration sought to create a legal limbo where detainees -- prisoners captured in the ''war on terror'' -- could be held indefinitely, even without charges.


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