ACLU Statement on the 21st Anniversary of Guantánamo

January 10, 2023 6:30 pm

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WASHINGTON — Tomorrow will mark 21 years since the U.S. government first forcibly brought detainees to the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, which is the longest-standing war prison in U.S. history.

Since 2002, 779 Muslim men and boys have been held at Guantánamo, nearly all of them without charge or trial. Today, 35 men remain indefinitely detained there, 23 of whom have never been charged with a crime, and 20 of whom have been cleared for transfer or release, some for years. Many of these men are torture survivors, and some were formerly disappeared into CIA “black sites” before being sent to Guantánamo. All of them have been exposed to the physical and psychological trauma associated with prolonged indefinite detention.

Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, issued the following statement:

“We can never forget or accept the horrors of torture, indefinite detention, and unfair trials that have defined Guantánamo for over two decades. The iconic images of the first prisoners remain shamefully and globally indelible: orange jumpsuits on brown bodies, hands tied together, eyes and ears masked.

“A generation of conflict has come and gone and yet the injustice and unfairness of Guantánamo remains. The path ahead is clear. The Biden administration must transfer the men who will not be charged with a crime, starting with those who have been cleared for years. It can resolve the broken and unconstitutional military commissions by pursuing plea agreements that would account for defendants’ torture by our government, while providing a measure of transparency and justice, as 9/11 family members have urged.

“President Biden must keep his promise and finally bring Guantánamo to a responsible end.”

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