European body orders US to close Guantanamo Bay

Published November 11th, 2015 - 05:11 GMT

An Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe report, released Tuesday, calls for closure of the US base in Guantanamo, Bay, Cuba.

The 280-page report by the Vienna-based group, whose 57-nation membership includes every NATO country, refers to indefinitely detained prisoners at the facility in violation of international law. The report also accuses the United States of inhumane treatment of prisoners and a lack of transparency regarding their release.

The report was released in Washington on the same day a defense policy bill, spelling out a ban on transferring Guantanamo prisoners to US penitentiaries, passed in the US Senate.

Closure of the Guantanamo prison has been a goal of the Obama administration. There were 240 prisoners at the prison, all accused or convicted of terrorist-related activities, at the start of Barack Obama's presidency; 112 remain, 53 of whom are eligible for transfer to other countries if security conditions can be achieved. Congressional approval of each transfer has been the largest hindrance to closure.

The report by the OSCE, an organization best known for attempting to establish a halt to combat in Ukraine, goes beyond a simple shutdown of the Guantanamo facility.

"One of our key recommendations is to end indefinite detention everywhere, so we wouldn't want detainees to be transferred somewhere else from Guantanamo where they still face indefinite detention without trial. We know that some people have been detained in Guantanamo for many, many years and only a small number of them are facing trials before military commissions in Guantanamo. But many have been there for a very long time and, as anyone under human rights law, they have the right to be charged or released and they cannot remain in detention for indefinite time without either being charged or released, said Omer Fisher of OSCE.

US legislators say there are not enough votes in Congress to support Guantanamo's closure. Obama could force the matter through executive action, but federal law prevents the transfer of prisoners to the United States.

"While I respect our allies around the world, Europe doesn't make our national security decisions for us," said Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., a opponent of closing the facility.

By Ed Adamczyk

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