[JURIST] Amnesty International USA, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch [advocacy websites] on Friday turned down an opportunity to tour the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], citing lack of access to detainees. The groups regularly send observers to the facility who have the same level of access as journalists, but have long been lobbying for the same level of access granted to the Red Cross under the Geneva Conventions [text]. The groups believe that full access to detainees is crucial [AP report] to fulfilling their mandate of protecting human rights and civil liberties. The US Department of Defense, which extended this most recent visiting offer to the groups on October 8, has not responded to the refusals.
While the rights groups expressed dismay at not being granted access to detainees, they did applaud the Senate [AI press release] for passing a bill that would allow Guantanamo detainees to be tried in the US [JURIST report]. Last week the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving 13 Uighur [JURIST report] detainees who could be released into the US. The past month has seen a number of detainee releases, including repatriation of detainees to Kuwait and Yemen, and an approved transfer of eight Uighurs to Palau [JURIST reports].