As Hunger Strike Enters Third Month 25 Prominent Human Rights Organizations Pen Letter to Obama Urging Swift Closure of Guantánamo
April 11, 2013, New York and Washington, D.C. – Today, 25 prominent human rights and civil liberties organizations sent a joint letter to President Obama urging the swift closure of Guantánamo and steps to end the hunger strike legally and humanely and end more than 11 years of indefinite detention. The organizations include the Center for Constitutional Rights, American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Center for Victims of Torture, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights, National Lawyers Guild, and Physicians for Human Rights. Today also marked a national emergency day of action to close Guantánamo, with events planned by several of the groups in 20 cities and 15 states.
Said Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy, “President Obama has promised to close Guantánamo repeatedly, but his failure has demoralized the men, who are in their 11th year of indefinite detention, to the point that they are risking their health and their lives. He must use the power given to him under the NDAA to begin the process of transferring the 86 cleared men out of the prison today and completing a just closure of Guantánamo.”
Today’s letter reads in part,
We urge you to order the relevant authorities to take swift measures to humanely and lawfully address the immediate causes of the hunger strike in a manner consistent with international standards of medical ethics before irreparable harm occurs to the prisoners. Moreover, we urge you to take steps to address the root of the problem by fulfilling your promise to close Guantánamo without further delay. To that end, we ask that you:
1) Direct Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel to use his authority to issue the certifications or national security waivers required by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2013) to effect transfers from Guantánamo.
2) Appoint an individual within your Administration to lead the effort to close Guantánamo.
The complete letter and list of signatories can be found here.
Experts available to discuss the letter include:
Pardiss Kebriaei, Senior Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights
Chris Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel, ACLU
Melina Milazzo, Senior Policy Counsel, Center for Victims of Torture
Daphne Eviatar, Senior Counsel, Human Rights First
Laura Pitter, Human Rights Watch
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