Thursday, June 6, 2013

U.S. Responds to Human Rights Concerns From Russia Over Gitmo Hunger Strike

    Thursday, at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Gary Robbins delivered another response to the "many concerns" expressed by Russia about the ongoing hunger strike by many of the terrorist detainees at the Guantánamo Bay facility:
Last Thursday, President Obama reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO), and proposed a series of steps to achieve that end, including his intention to lift the Presidential moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen. The President also called on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers from Guantánamo, which the Administration has long maintained impede its ability to close the detention facility. To the extent possible, the United States will transfer those detainees who have been designated for transfer, and where appropriate, will prosecute others in our courts and military justice system. While it will take some time to fully close the detention facility in Guantánamo, all U.S. detention operations will continue to be carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions, and all other applicable international and domestic laws. 
In the meantime, the Department of Defense is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the detainees who remain at the facility. 
Moreover, the United States remains committed to transparency about the facility and the military commissions. As we have previously noted, we are working with ODIHR to accommodate a visit Guantánamo and observe military commission proceedings. We have also offered to host the visit of a Russian delegation to Guantánamo, given the many concerns that the Russian Federation has expressed about the facility. That invitation remains open.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    One of President Obama's first acts in office in 2009 was an executive order to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. The president has blamed Congress for its continued operation.

Note: This article first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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