Today is the tenth anniversary of the transfer of the first detainees to the United States naval base in Guantánamo Bay, in Cuba. And with the recent adoption of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (section 1021) the practice of indefinite detention without charge or trial of terrorism suspects has been legalized in the US; for foreign nationals that is.
Apparently, habeas corpus and universal human rights standards are not worth much if you’re a terrorist, or tagged as one. Some time ago there was still some hope that Guantanamo would be closed. Well, that hope is fading with the years. International and domestic US law require that the detention of terrorist suspects be followed by concrete charges and persons so detained be immediately informed of those charges and brought before a competent judicial authority. Or are due process and human rights only for good guys that pay taxes?!
Calls for the closure of the Guantanamo detention centre have come from different quarters, including most recently from Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) (see here) and many human rights organizations and activists. For a recent report by Amnesty International on the wrong message that Guantanamo sends to the world see here. In his yesterday talk, Lenarčič, called for a swift closure of the Guantánamo detention centre, as promised by President Obama, and for the United States Congress to remove any obstacles in this regard. Ambassador Lenarčič also urged the US authorities to prosecute promptly the remaining Guantánamo detainees in accordance with international fair trial standards, or release them.
Fighting terrorism while safeguarding equality before the law and individual liberties are some of the minimum human rights obligations that all states have undertaken. So, please 1, 2, 3…action (in the right direction)!