Reprieve is dismayed that Guantánamo Bay’s closure is likely to take more than a year; asks Congress and international partners to urgently assist President Obama’s efforts.

July 21, 2009

Image of a man standing outside of a prison gate with the sun setting behind him

The Obama Administration today provided the clearest signals yet that the closure of Guantánamo Bay is failing to progress satisfactorily and may well miss the stated deadline of 22nd January 2010.

President Obama commissioned a report on US detention of terrorism suspects in view of shutting down the prison within a year, due to be completed this week. That report has been delayed for up to six months, and many believe that this must also lead to a delay in the closure date.

Reprieve is extremely concerned for the welfare of our clients, many of whom have been cleared for release for many years and simply need a safe place to go. Long years spent in a harsh prison in a perpetual state of uncertainty have led to increasingly severe mental distress. There has been another death in Guantánamo this year, and it is difficult to overstate the level of desperation among prisoners.

Reprieve asks Congress to take action on these men by affording President Obama the support he needs to reunite them with the rule of law.

Reprieve further urges international governments, particularly those in Europe, to help end the horror of Guantánamo by offering prisoners a home. We draw attention to the fact that ex-detainees in the UK have settled peacefully into the community without so much as a traffic fine to their name.

Zachary Katznelson, Legal Director of Reprieve, said: “Years of brutal incarceration without charge or trial, usually spent in a small steel box without windows, have left our clients despondent. Just last month, Ayman Al Shurafa, a client who has been cleared by the US military for more than two years, yet who remains in prison, told me he constantly feels like screaming and crying. He has given up hope of ever being reunited with his family.”

-ENDS-

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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