Logo for the Center for Victims of Torture

CVT and Coalition Partners Call on President Biden to Close Guantánamo Permanently

Published January 9, 2024

As we confront the 22nd anniversary of Guantánamo detention facility, the Center for Victims of Torture worked with partner non-governmental organizations to send this letter to President Biden, urging him to close the facility permanently.


January 9, 2024

President Joseph Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Biden:

We are a diverse group of US-based and international non-governmental organizations working on a range of issues including international human rights, immigrants’ rights, racial justice, and combatting anti-Muslim discrimination. We write to express our deep concern about how little progress your administration has made over the last year towards responsibly closing the Guantánamo detention center, including rejecting the only realistic opportunity to end the case against those alleged to be most responsible for 9/11, in a way that achieves a modicum of justice and closure for 9/11 family members—and finally to wind down the failed military commission system. Guantánamo has now been open for twenty-two years. Your administration needs to do more, and do it now, to close the facility, and to end indefinite military detention.

The Guantánamo detention center – created exclusively to detain Muslim men and boys – was designed specifically to evade legal constraints. It enabled the Bush administration to torture and abuse those held there, and to hide the fact that it tortured and abused men held elsewhere before being sent to Guantánamo. Nearly eight hundred men and boys were detained at Guantánamo after 2002, all but a handful without any charges against them and none with access to a fair trial. Thirty men remain today. Of those, sixteen have been cleared for transfer out – by unanimous agreement of all executive branch agencies with a significant national security function – but they continue to languish in Guantánamo. At the astronomical cost of over $500 million per year, it is the most expensive prison in the world. Guantánamo continues to be a site and symbol of Islamophobia, torture, and impunity.

The political decision to keep Guantánamo open has devastating consequences. Detention with no end in sight continues to cause escalating and profound damage to the aging and increasingly ill men who remain, and has shattered many of their families and communities. There is no reasonable prospect of judicial resolution in the 9/11 military commissions case, which, after two decades, has not even gone to trial. Your administration has chosen not to use its authority to encourage a resolution of the case which would provide justice to 9/11 family members—a resolution that even your own military commission chief prosecutor supports.

Whether Guantánamo and its injustices continue or – as you promised – end, will be a defining part of your legacy and this pivotal year of your presidency may be the last chance at closing it. It is long past time for a meaningful reckoning with the full scope of damage caused by US policies in response to 9/11 and through the so-called “War on Terror.” Closing Guantánamo, ending indefinite military detention of those held there, and never again using the military base for unlawful mass detention of any group of people are necessary steps towards those ends—and to combatting dehumanizing and Islamophobic narratives. We urge you to act without delay, and in a just manner that considers the harm done to the men who have been imprisoned without charge or fair trials for over two decades.


18 Million Rising
Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) Belgium
ACAT Germany
ACAT Switzerland
Action Center on Race & the Economy
Adalah Justice Project
Afghans For A Better Tomorrow
African Human Rights Coalition
Alliance of Baptists
American Civil Liberties Union
American Friends Service Committee
American Muslim Bar Association
Amnesty International Kent Network
Amnesty International USA
Assisi Community
Birmingham Islamic Society
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Brooklyn For Peace
Campaign for Peace Disarmament and Common Security
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
Center for Victims of Torture
Center on Conscience and War
Charity & Security Network
Church of the Brethren, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy
Close Guantanamo
Coalition for Civil Freedoms
Communities United for Status & Protection (CUSP)
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Defending Rights & Dissent
Demand Progress Education Fund
Denver Justice and Peace Committee
DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving
Episcopal Peace Fellowship
Federal Association of Vietnamese Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Friends of Human Rights
Friends of Matènwa
Government Information Watch
Guantanamo Justice Campaign
Hawaii Peace and Justice
Human Rights First
Human Rights Initiative of North Texas
Human Rights Watch
Immigrant Defenders Law Center
Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace
International Federation for Human Rights – FIDH
International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
InterReligious Task Force on Central America
Just Foreign Policy
Lewes Amnesty International Group
Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church Chicago
LSE SU Amnesty International
Malu ‘Aina
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Ministry Against the Death Penalty
Missionary Oblates US Province
MPower Change Action Fund
Muslim Advocates
Muslim Counterpublics Lab
Muslim Solidarity Committee, Albany NY
Muslims for Just Futures
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Immigration Project
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
No More Guantanamos
North Carolina Stop Torture Now
Out Against War
Pax Christi USA
Peace Action
Peace Action New York State
Presbyterian Church USA, Office of Public Witness
Project on Government Oversight
Provincial Council Clerics of St. Viator
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Justice Team
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
Tea Project
The Episcopal Church
Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG)
UK Guantanamo Network
United Against Inhumanity
United Church of Christ
United for Peace and Justice
Veterans For Peace, Chapter 113 – Hawaii
Washington Office on Latin America
Western States Legal Foundation
Win Without War
Witness Against Torture
World Can’t Wait Hawai`i
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

CC: The Honorable Lloyd J. Austin, United States Secretary of Defense
The Honorable Antony Blinken, United States Secretary of State
The Honorable Merrick B. Garland, United States Attorney General

Share this Statement

Related Statements