London – US President Barack Obama’s announcement on Guantanamo is yet another in a series of similar announcements that have become a signature of his presidency.


Whilst he has not followed through on any of the previous promises to shut Guantanamo Bay prison, one can only remain hopeful that the final such announcement will coincide with the termination of his leadership and, at least in part, form a narrative of the legacy of Guantanamo. However, we are far from this ever happening. There are 91 prisoners still held there – the vast majority without charge or trial.

The handful that stand accused of the most serious crimes can never be brought to trial on the US mainland primarily because their cases will likely be thrown out when details of their torture is presented in open court.

As for the others, either cleared for release or deemed “too dangerous to release” and against whom no evidence exists, there can ultimately be only one logical outcome: they are released to their home countries or resettled where they can start to rebuild their broken lives. Simply transferring them is not synonymous with closure.

Moazzam Begg, CAGE Outreach Director and former detainee of Guantanamo Bay and Bagram prison, said:


“Obama only needs to use one word that, as a former constitutional lawyer, he has failed to employ. The men in Guantanamo are innocent according to the letter and the rule of law. If no charges could have been brought against these men following interrogations and intelligence gathering by the world’s most powerful law enforcement and security agencies in 14 years, then it’s never going to happen.”

“Arguments about “dangerous terrorists” intent on harming the US ring hollow when senior Taliban ministers, Bin Laden associates and confidants have already been released years ago.”

“The time to end Guantanamo has come and gone many times. Calling for its closure yet again is, of course, welcome but it means nothing to the prisoners there. They, like us, will only believe it when they see it.”
Image courtesy of Stephen Melkisethian on Flickr

(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.)