[JURIST] The United States should set a concrete deadline for closure of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], according to a Monday report [PDF text] by an investigator from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCEPA) [official website]. OSCEPA's special Guantanamo envoy Anne-Marie Lizin [personal website, in French] said that the major problems blocking closure include questions over the repatriation of detainees who are either likely to reengage in terrorist activities or face inhumane punishments if returned to their countries of origin. She also reported that living conditions for the detainees have not changed significantly since her report last year [JURIST report]. Her report indicated doubt about the value of the prison, saying:
We expressed our skepticism in previous reports as to the added value of information gathered after years of detention, as well as the degree to which certain detainees are dangerous. As regards the latter point, we must bear in mind the fact that a large number of detainees who were released and transferred clearly shows many of them wound up in Guantanamo almost by chance, because they kept suspect company or because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Conversely, it cannot be doubted that individuals transferred to Guantanamo after spending several years in CIA secret prisons outside the territory of the United States, are highly dangerous. It remains to be seen whether the evidence compiled against them will be sufficient and whether the information they have provided was not extracted under constraint and even torture, as their defenders and human rights organisations assert.The group called for the US to "spare no effort" in providing for the rights of those detainees to be tried under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [DOD materials], and called for changes in international humanitarian law to account for "new categories of combatants." This is Lizin's third report [press release] on the base. AP has more.
Numerous international groups and rights activists have called for the closure of the Guantanamo detention center [JURIST news archive]. In February, the leaders of 34 international bar associations and law societies sent a letter [PDF text] to US President George W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging the "immediate closure" of the facility [JURIST report]. Last October, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin called on the US to quickly prosecute or release terror suspects [JURIST report] detained at Guantanamo Bay so that the US can close the detention center. In May, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reiterated President Bush's August 2007 claim that the US wants to close the base [JURIST reports], but that both legal and logistical impediments make the closure difficult.