Guantánamo: USA and other governments must follow France’s lead and accept released detainees

The French government is taking a step to help consign to history the detention facility at Guantánamo, said Amnesty International today after the French authorities agreed to offer a home to a man released from Guantánamo after seven years of unlawful detention. Lakhdar Boumediene has been held at the US detention centre in Cuba without charge or trial since January 2002. He arrived in France on 15 May 2009.

“Other governments should follow France’s commendable lead. They should offer protection to those men at Guantánamo who will not be charged but have nowhere to go,” said Daniel Gorevan, manager of Amnesty International’s Counter Terror with Justice campaign.

Separately, there may be as many as 60 detainees who cannot be returned to their home countries because they would be at real risk of torture or other serious human rights violations. This includes 17 Uighurs who have been ordered released by US courts but remain held at Guantánamo.  

Amnesty International reiterates that any Guantánamo detainee who is not charged and cannot lawfully be returned to his country of origin or habitual residence, for instance where he would be at risk of torture or other serious human rights violations, should be offered an opportunity to be released into the mainland USA.

“It is regrettable that the USA itself continues to fail to do this,” said Daniel Gorevan. “The USA must take swift action to end the unlawful detentions at Guantánamo, including by offering released detainees who cannot lawfully be returned to their home countries, the opportunity to live in the US mainland. Otherwise it risks eroding the goodwill of governments that may take in such detainees”.

While Amnesty International considers that the USA has the primary responsibility to end the Guantánamo detentions, the organization is also calling on other governments to offer humanitarian protection to such individuals in order to help end their ordeal and to facilitate the closure of Guantánamo.