News / USA

Legal Hurdles Keep Scores of Prisoners Detained in Guantanamo

Legal Hurdles Keep Scores of Prisoners Detained in Guantanamoi
X
June 06, 2014 4:13 AM
It’s been more than 12 years since the administration of President George W. Bush re-opened the doors of the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Nearly 800 detainees have been there since the onset of the so-called global war on terror. Human rights groups say the detentions are illegal, but the U.S. Government says they’re necessary, despite promises by President Obama to close the camp. Arash Arabasadi reports from Washington.
Arash Arabasadi
It’s been more than 12 years since the administration of President George W. Bush re-opened the doors of the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Nearly 800 detainees have been held there since the onset of the so-called global war on terror.  Human rights groups say the detentions are illegal, but the U.S. government says they’re necessary, despite promises by President Obama to close the camp. 
 
It started in 2002, four months after the September 11 attacks that fueled the U.S.-led war on terror. The detainees were all Muslim; some were as young as 18. Of the 149 still held today, 38 are classified “detained indefinitely.” 
 
“In the view of the administration - and it’s the previous administration - the detainees at Guantanamo were not combatants as defined in the Geneva Conventions, and therefore not entitled to prisoner of war status upon capture,” said Nicholas Rostow, who served as a former senior adviser to the U.S. government and as a special assistant to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. 
 
In 1949, the Geneva Conventions established the rules of war, giving rights to uniformed soldiers of signatory countries who are captured on the battlefield.
 
“It was decided early on that if we captured detainees, we had to decide what their legal status would be. You get the full protections of the Geneva Conventions… if you are a country that has signed and ratified the Geneva Conventions,” said Cully Stimson, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
 
The United States treats these detainees as prisoners of war, with the understanding they will be returned to their home country when the war on terror ends.  The United States does not see that end coming soon.
 
“It’s better than the alternative. We decided… that it’s better to detain somebody humanely and feed and clothe and water them and what not… than to kill them.  Because the ultimate deprivation of liberty is killing somebody, whereas depriving somebody of the ability to fight on the battlefield is an inconvenience compared to death,” said Stimson.
 
That’s where things got tricky, said Stimson.
 
“The complicating factor was that the Taliban was the ruling party in Afghanistan when 9/11 happened.  Only three countries recognized the Taliban as the legitimate ruling party of Afghanistan.  We weren’t one of those three countries, naturally,” said Stimson.
 
While the U.S. government plans to hold some Guantanamo detainees indefinitely, for the rest, there are only limited options.
 
“These aren’t the most palatable people, and so it’s a little hard to find places that will take them. Some of them are awaiting trial or should be tried either by military commission or by civilian courts,” said Rostow.
 
President Obama said six years ago that he would close the doors at Guantanamo Bay. He has yet to make good on that promise, and in light of a recent prisoner exchange with the Taliban, that closing date may be even harder to predict.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
June 06, 2014 9:57 AM
AN UNDENIABLE FACT? -- (The Taliban official headquarters is in Qatar) -- and the (5) senior Taliban released from Guantanamo were sent to Qatar, with no restrictions of any kind, and freedom to go anywhere. -- (to negotiate US troop withdrawal and compensation to the Taliban)....

(WHY?) -- The US and the Taliban have been in top secret negotiations for over (4) years, on a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and an agreement from the Taliban, that they won't attack the withdrawing US troops. -- (FACT?) -- The (5) jailed senior Taliban were the sticking point in the secret negotiations, (because), they were needed as the top secret Taliban team, that the US had to make the US withdrawal and compensation deal with. --- (Bergdahl was used as a diversion and camouflage, to conceal the secret US and Taliban deal) --- FACTS you didn't know?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More