Summit of the Americas

Updated: Sep 15

It’s been 20 years since #GuantanamoBay - the #US high security prison located in Cuba – was set up, 4 months after the September 11, 2001. Since then, 780 men from 48 countries have passed through the facility; today there are 39.


“These are detentions bound up with unlawful government conduct over the years”. The US can hold foreign nationals in Guantanamo without charge and right to appeal indefinitely; saying they are not eligible for habeas corpus rights because they aren’t on US soil or that they do not qualify as prisoners of war protected under the Geneva Convention. In 2002, usage of interrogation techniques including sensory deprivation, isolation and the use of dogs to “induce stress”, was approved.


The countries with the highest number of detainees include: #Afghanistan, #SaudiArabia, #Yemen, #Pakistan and #Algeria. More than 150 innocent men were held in Guantanamo Bay for years. Since 2002, 732 detainees have been sent home or to other countries through prisoner transfer agreements; nine died in custody.


Obama announced to close Guantanamo, but then he signed an executive order to resume military trials in the prison. Trump pledged to “load it up with some bad dudes”, while Biden said he hopes to close the prison, but the federal government is still barred by law from transferring inmates to prisons on the US mainland.


Because of the resettlement deals, some former detainees were repatriated, but others were sent esewhere. Adayfi - a citizen of Yemen held in Guantanamo from 2002 to 2016 - was sent to Serbia. He cannot leave Serbia because he has no passport; there’s a listening software installed on his phone; he is not allowed to drive and can’t find work because of the 15 years he spent in Guantanamo.


As Daphne Eviatar said, “the US has created a uniquely terrible situation for these men. Many were tortured and received no acknowledgement, no compensation, no rehabilitation. To transfer them into another situation where they are restricted, can’t earn a livelihood, it’s unconscionable”. As Adayfi said, “America punishes you for 15 years, and then the rest of the world punishes you for the rest of your life”.

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