Today marks 16 years since detainees were first brought to Guantanamo detention camp in Cuba. To mark this day, we have produced an infographic (below) to illustrate how detainees found themselves in Guantanamo, the facilities of the camp, and the fate of the 779 individuals held there. With 41 prisoners still locked away in the camp, Guantanamo and its legacy remains a pressing issue for people of conscience worldwide, and one that CAGE continues to campaign on.

On January 11th 2002, the first twenty detainees arrived at Guantanamo Bay, set up by the US Government to detain, extract information from and prosecute individuals for war crimes as part of the ‘War on Terror’.

The camp formed a legal black hole swelling to hold 779 prisoners over the last 16 years – many of them for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, targets of rivalry and personal feuds, or cases of mistaken identity.

The systematic use of torture, brutality, kidnaps and renditions in Guantanamo have come to symbolise the culture of lawlessness and impunity of the US-led War on Terror.

In many ways the camp defined the War on Terror, and whilst it has largely faded from the public consciousness, Guantanamo lives on – literally and figuratively.

Presided over by three different US administrations, 41 prisoners remain locked away there without end in sight. Meanwhile, the Guantanamo-isation of foreign and domestic policy continues, as human rights and due process are torn apart to make way for extrajudicial killing and unbridled repression.

As the cages of Guantanamo began to empty over the years, the spectre of drones haunted those very lands already struggling under war and occupation. Meanwhile the War on Terror ‘came home’, with counter-terrorism laws paralysing popular dissent in Britain, the US and worldwide.

In the climate of fear and paranoia that gripped the world after the launch of the War on Terror, few dared speak out against Guantanamo, or in defence of the prisoners described by US officials as “the worst of the worst”. As a drip feed of stories, anecdotes and whistleblower accounts escaped from the camp, a clearer picture quickly emerged – that of a place where dignity died and lawlessness thrived. Of a place with innocents locked away en masse, often sold for bounty, passed on by spies, or victims of tribal disputes. And a place only made possible by the willing complicity of governments globally.

This complicity was met by the forceful campaigning of civilians worldwide, facing down the might of the US state and its network of compliant states against the legal black hole of Guantanamo – CAGE was formed as part of the resistance against such illegality and has been leading on the issue ever since.

In the age of Trump, resisting against Guantanamo and its legacy must continue to be a focus, otherwise the lessons of the War on Terror will be lost to future generations.


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(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)