Guantanamo Bay marks 12 years
Today, January 11th, marks 12 years since the first men were taken to the US prison at Guantanamo Bay. 155 men remain, 77 of whom have been cleared for release.
In 2009 President Obama pledged to close the prison yet he has so far failed to fulfill that promise. Of the 779 men known to have been held there to date, 624 have been released. More men have died in the prison than have been put on trial.
Shaker Aamer, a British resident who remains imprisoned without charge or trial, has been cleared for release under both the Bush and the Obama administrations. The UK government has said that it is British policy for him to be returned to his British wife and their four children in London. David Cameron has raised Mr Aamer’s case with President Obama, yet he remains imprisoned.
A government minister said last month in response to questions in Parliament, that: “The British Government continues to note reports regarding the hunger strike at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. We maintain an active dialogue with the US Government regarding humanitarian issues at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and remain committed to assisting the US in its aim to close the facility.”
Shaker made the following statement to his lawyer about Guantanamo’s 12th anniversary:
“It will soon be 12 years that I have been in Guantánamo. I arrived on the day my youngest child Faris was born (February 14th, 2014). Even then, I had already spent some two months in US captivity, undergoing terrible mistreatment. Those are twelve years that are lost to me forever.
What I have missed most has been the opportunity to do my part to fill up my four children’s reservoir of love. The early years of a child’s life is a parent’s best chance to show them what love is, before they become more distant with approaching adulthood. Losing this, my opportunity and obligation, is my greatest regret.”
Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's Director and Guantanamo attorney, said: "Guantanamo is not a unique mistake - Britain had its own offshore law-free island prison in the civil war. It was wrong then, and was declared illegal in the Habeas Corpus act of 1679. The US merely repeated the mistake. With Guantanamo, 12 years is 12 years too long. More men have committed suicide than have been put on trial. Half of the prisoners have been cleared for years, like my client Shaker Aamer. They should go home at once and President Obama must close the prison as he promised in his first public statement as president five years ago.”
Notes to editors
1. For further information, please contact Clemency Wells or Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 7739 188 097 / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com