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USA: Free detainees, close Guantánamo

Currently, 30 men are unlawfully held at the US military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Despite 16 of them being cleared for release, they continue to be detained. The prison has been operational for over 22 years, during which more than 700 Muslim men and boys have been incarcerated. Many of these individuals have been tortured, all were detained arbitrarily, and none have received a fair trial. Toffiq al-Bihani, one of the detainees, was cleared for transfer as far back as 2010 but is still confined at the facility. We urge the US government to immediately transfer Toffiq and the other cleared detainees and to shut down the prison.

Here’s what you can do:

Write to the United States Secretary of State urging him to:

  • Work toward a lawful solution for detainees like Toffiq al-Bihani, by transferring them to countries that will protect their rights or by ensuring fair judicial resolutions for those charged with crimes. This includes closing Guantánamo permanently.
  • Ensure that those who have suffered torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment at Guantánamo receive genuine access to effective remedies. This should include options for rehabilitation and appropriate compensation.
  • Bring those responsible for the torture and enforced disappearance of detainees to justice. Ensure that the trials are fair and do not resort to the death penalty.

Write to:

Secretary Antony Blinken

United States Department of State

2200 C Street NW, Washington DC 20037, USA

Salutation: Dear Secretary Blinken,

And copy:

His Excellency David Louis Cohen


Embassy of the United States of America

490 Sussex Drive

Ottawa, ON K1N 1G8

Tel: (613) 238-5335 / 688-5335 (24h) Fax: (613) 688-3082

Progress & challenges in closing Guantánamo under the Biden administration

Since President Joseph Biden took office, the United States has transferred seven men out of the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, signaling progress yet highlighting ongoing challenges.

Transfers Under the Biden Administration:

  • July 2021: Abdul Latif Nasser, a 56-year-old Moroccan citizen, was transferred to Morocco. Cleared for release in 2016, Nasser remained in Guantánamo for an additional five years, totaling 19 years without charges.
  • April 2022: Sufyian Barhoumi was repatriated to Algeria. Captured in Pakistan in March 2002 and held at Guantánamo without trial, Barhoumi’s release was previously stalled by the Trump administration’s policies.
  • March 2022: Mohammed al-Qahtani was repatriated to Saudi Arabia for mental health care after enduring torture that rendered him ineligible for trial.
  • June 2022: Asadullah Haroon Gul, an Afghan prisoner, was released following a U.S. federal court order after nearly 15 years of detention.
  • February 2023: Majid Khan was transferred to Belize.
  • March 2023: Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi was transferred to Saudi Arabia.
  • April 2023: Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush was transferred to Algeria.

Despite these efforts, significant work remains. The administration must accelerate efforts to transfer the remaining 16 men cleared for release. Additionally, it must either resettle or bring to fair trial those still detained, ensuring adherence to international law without recourse to the death penalty.

Calls for action and accountability

Amnesty International urges the Biden administration to close the Guantánamo facility permanently. It also demands investigations and justice for past abuses, including torture and enforced disappearance, committed by U.S. authorities. This call to action emphasizes not only the necessity to end current detentions but also to address past crimes and the lack of accountability and remedy for them.