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Joe Biden inherits the thorny management of Guantánamo

2021-05-21T10:18:30.913Z

Democratic Administration approves release of three inmates without charge, first decision on controversial jail



Detainees at the prison of the US military naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba, in a file photo.T14 / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO / Europa Press

With the victory that brought him to the White House, Joe Biden inherited an unclosed wound in US justice and human rights, although practically forgotten by the public opinion. After almost 20 years, the affront of the Guantanamo prison in Cuba has passed through three different administrations. Now it is endorsed by the Government of Joe Biden, which has given its approval for three detainees who remain in the military naval base that the United States has on the island to be transferred to countries that promise to impose security measures. One of those three men is the oldest prisoner in the prison, Pakistani Saifullah Paracha, 73, who has spent 16 years in United States custody. The other two prisoners are Abdul Rabbani (54-year-old Pakistani) and Uthman Abdul al-Rahim Uthman (40-year-old Yemeni);both have been in US military custody for two decades. None of the three have ever been charged with any crime by the United States.

Guantánamo was conceived almost 20 years ago, in January 2002, to prevent so-called “enemy combatants”, captured in the George W. Bush Administration's war on terror after September 11, from being subject to US law. . The White House thus used a legal trick: by locating the prison on the Caribbean island, the center was outside the Geneva Convention, which protects prisoners of war, and did not require the application of the habeas corpus guarantee - right to appear before a judge at a specified time - some prisoners he held outside the world and outside the jurisdiction of the US At the time of greatest occupation, Guantánamo was home to 779 people. Before leaving the White House, Bush transferred some 550 prisoners to other countries. Your successor in office,Democrat Barack Obama did the same with about 200.

Saifullah Paracha, 73, is the oldest prisoner at the Guantanamo base, Cuba.

Donald Trump promised during the 2016 election campaign that he would once again fill the cells of Guantánamo "with bad guys."

A promise that was never kept but, on the contrary, a man came out of the center who admitted to having belonged to Al Qaeda and who was sent to Saudi Arabia to be rehabilitated in a center for jihadists.

Today there are only 40 prisoners left in what President Obama called "a stain on America's national honor."

Among those 40 inmates, more than 10 have been accused of war crimes by the controversial military tribunals established in Guantánamo - which escape US justice - and another five are the coordinators of the 9/11 attacks, including the mastermind of the attack. , Khalid Saij Mohamed, as established in the report made by Congress on 9/11.

The day after he was sworn in, in January 2009, Obama promised to close Guantanamo within one year.

At the end of his term, the Democrat claimed that the existence of the detention center in Cuban territory was contrary to US values, harmed national security and was expensive.

"This is about closing a chapter in our history," Obama said in 2016.

It was pure rhetoric.

The Capitol declared Obama's purpose dead.

The then Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, declared emphatically that "under US law it would be illegal to transfer Guantanamo prisoners to the national territory," he declared.

It was of little or no use that Obama turned to his predecessor in office, George W. Bush, to support his desire to close the center, arguing that the man who designed the architecture around Guantánamo (detentions without charges, commissions military, foreign territory to circumvent US law) also wanted his closure at the end of his presidency.

Obama gave up

Following his re-election as president of the United States in 2012, Obama made no mention of Guantanamo in either his inaugural address in January or in his State of the Union address in February, in a clear sign of surrender.

Closing the detention camp seems doomed to fail. Mainly for a legal issue. Because even if there was a green light from Congress to transfer prisoners to maximum security prisons in the United States, any judge or court that proposed it could challenge the legality of the detention and the confessions made by the Guantanamo inmates, tainted by the torture. The inmates of the center have risked their lives with hunger strikes and, in some cases, have even hanged themselves due to the lack of expectations of being released. Some years ago, Carlos Warner, defense attorney for 11 of those prisoners, declared to this newspaper: "The only way to get out of Guantánamo is to die."

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All news articles on 2021-05-21

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