Unless President Barack Obama shuts down Gitmo before vacating office, Donald Trump promises to keep it open, and fill it up even more.
On Monday, President Obama expressed regret at not being able to shut down the military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in accordance with his promise soon after coming in to office. “With respect to Guantanamo, it is true that I have not been able to close the darn thing, because of the congressional restrictions that have been placed on us,” he is quoted as having said at a press conference by the Business Insider.
Human rights groups are making efforts to have the prison shut down before Obama leaves office. “He knows what’s at stake and he knows he can’t leave the door to Guantanamo open for Donald Trump,” said Naureen Shah, director of the security and human rights program at Amnesty International, according to AP.
Established in 2002 under the Bush administration, Guantanamo Bay held 242 prisoners when Obama took office in 2009. Over the years, several detainees, about 180, have either been returned to their home countries or transferred to other prisons in Americas. The US Congress, however, has banned transfers from the facility to U.S. prisons. Currently, it holds 60 prisoners, a third of whom have been cleared for transfer.
Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to keep the detention centre open. In fact, in April, during his campaign, he said that “we’re gonna load it up with some bad dudes, believe me. We’re gonna load it up.” This statement has raised questions about where these “bad dudes” would be found, as the USA is no longer fighting ground wars and taking prisoners as it was when the camp was started, and under the current law, Americans cannot be held at the military prison.
The prison camp at Guantanamo Bay was set up to hold detainees suspected of terrorist acts and war crimes. Most of the suspects held there were detained for an indefinite period of time, without trials, which is considered unconstitutional in several countries, including the U.S. Since its inception, the detention camp has been the subject of severe criticism by human rights activists and agencies for its use of brutal interrogation techniques, which include torture.