Declaration of the OAS Secretary General on the Situation of the People Detained in Guantanamo
The Organization of American States (OAS), through its Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), has closely followed for more than a decade the situation of the people detained at Guantanamo Naval Base. The concern of the Organization has been expressed through cautionary measures, resolutions, examinations of cases, hearings and press releases, requesting for these people treatment in strict accordance with universal and regional norms regarding human rights, to which our countries have adhered.
In this framework, in its Resolution of July 2011, the IACHR “urges the United States to close the Guantanamo Bay facility without delay and arrange for the trial or release of the detainees.” More than three years later, this process has not concluded, despite the efforts made by the government of President Obama.
More than half of the prisoners that remain in Guantanamo are in conditions to be freed, but have not been for the lack of a country that will receive them. These are people who have not been judged, nor will they be, for any crime, and the exhaustive evaluations that they have been submitted to by the authorities of the United States have determined that they do not present serious risks to the security of the country, nor to any that receives them.
The Government of the United States has requested that the countries of the Hemisphere examine the possibility of receiving these people in their territories. Since 2009, 18 countries have hosted a total of 48 detained people, reducing the list to 149. Of this number, 79 are in conditions to be freed, if some country will receive them. A positive response to receive a reduced number of them, who do not present a risk to security, would contribute to significantly reducing this serious humanitarian case in the territory of the Americas.
I request respectfully that those countries that can do so, in a manner consistent with their national policies and their internal legal framework, consider receiving people currently detained in Guantanamo, in order to allow them to resume their lives following their prolonged detention.
I reiterate that I make this request in accord with the position maintained by the IACHR, which has on repeated occasions called for the closure of this detention camp. Such a closure would also require that the United States process the cases of the other 70 detained people, on which it should take a timely decision.
I believe that our commitment to the universal cause of human rights does not only call on us to comply with them, but also to consider the possibility of cooperating in their fulfillment when another country of the region requests it.