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Obama Signs Executive Order Closing Guantánamo

The news is just out that President Obama has signed an executive order facilitating the closure of the US detention centre in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. A draft version of the Order is available here and news links here and here.

Section 3 of the Order reads:

Closure of Detention Facilities at Guantánamo. The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order. If any individuals covered by this order remain in detention at Guantánamo at the time of closure of those detention facilities, they shall be returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country, or transferred to another United States detention facility in a manner consistent with law and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.

As Eric Posner rightly points out, the Order leaves open the option of transferring detainees to other US facilities, including the Bagram base in Afghanistan, which, like Guantánamo, has been heavily criticised. Thus, although much welcomed, the Order may effectively leave to the situation where detainees are simply transferred elsewhere facing conditions equally as bad as on Guantánamo. As Julian Ku notes, people object to the detention and treatment that detainees received there and not the place itself. No one ever said that closing Guantánamo was going to be easy but at least the Executive Order is a start.

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