Eight detainees were transferred from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the custody of Afghanistan and Middle Eastern governments, a Pentagon spokesman said today.
Six detainees were transferred to Afghanistan, and one each to Libya and Yemen, said Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Defense Department spokesman. Their identities were not released.
“All detainees at Guantanamo are considered a threat to the United States — to include those transferred yesterday,” Gordon said. “As a condition of repatriation, nations accepting detainees must take steps to prevent the return to terrorism, as well as providing credible assurances of humane treatment.”
According to the article about 330 detainees are still being held in Guantanamo. This is less than half of the total population held in the facility since the War on Terror began since over 400 detainees have been sent to other countries.
Interestingly, Human Rights Watch recently had this to say about returning prisoners to their countries of origin:
“Closing Guantanamo provides the United States one of the best opportunities to help rebuild its moral authority and international good will,” said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel for Human Rights Watch. “Washington should not squander that chance by forcibly repatriating detainees to countries with known records of torture and abuse.”
Of the 355 detainees the US is still holding in Guantanamo, approximately 50 come from countries such as Algeria, China, Libya, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan – all countries with known records of torture – and have told their attorneys that they are so fearful of torture or other abuse that they do not want to return home. Another nine who are either unrepresented or never met with their lawyer come from such “at-risk” countries, and may also have valid repatriation concerns, as may others because of personal circumstances. The Convention against Torture, to which the US is a party, prohibits returning anyone to another state where “there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”
Evidently there are worse things than being held in U.S. custody, media criticism notwithstanding.