Guantanamo Voices


Policy Thoughts

President-elect Barack Obama has promised to close Guantanamo Bay. As we are traveling around the UK, I’ll be asking leaders of various nonprofits and think tanks what policies they think Obama should push to accompany the closure.

Question: Briefly, what five things should Obama do immediately to begin fixing the legal and ethical failings of Guantanamo and other detention camps?

Answers:

From Asim Qureshi and Dr. Adnan Siddiqui, senior researcher and director of UK-based detainee human rights advocacy group Cageprisoners:

  1. Send a very clear message that it’s not just Guantanamo that’s the problem, the U.S.’s detainee policies overall must be changed. “I’ve never seen Guantanamo as being the big issue here. Guantanamo is a small piece of a big puzzle,” says Quershi, “And in many ways it’s the easiest to deal with.” Qureshi believes the bigger issue is the tens of thousands of uncharged “enemy combatants” he says are held in US prisons in places like Afghanistan, Morocco and Iraq.
  2. The U.S. must find a way to assure that detainees who are released won’t be returned to countries where they will be tortured.
  3. If detainees are transferred to U.S. prisons (as Obama’s team currently estimates between 30-80 will be), they must receive due process and a fair trial.
  4. There must be some redress for the detainees who were held for years with no charge. Siddiqui says no amount of money could make up for the psychological and physical damage to these men, but “the U.S. should make an acknowledgement that ‘we have done this and it was wrong and it will never happen again.'”
  5. American needs to rediscover the its founding Constitutional principles — commitment to justice and equality.
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