87% Success Rate in Guantánamo's Military Review Boards
Dear friends and supporters,
It's been a few weeks since we've written to you, and we're glad to report that there has been significant progress in that time. Two men have been freed -- a Moroccan and a Saudi -- and the government has also confirmed that Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, will be freed, probably within the next month. This is great news for Close Guantánamo's co-founders, Andy Worthington and Tom Wilner. Andy set up the We Stand With Shaker campaign ten months ago with the activist Joanne MacInnes, which secured significant support from celebrities and MPs in the U.K., and Tom helped to arrange meetings between Senators and a delegation of MPs who visited Washington D.C. in May.
Other prisoners have also been recommended for release -- on September 8, as Andy reported in his article, Periodic Review Board Approves Release of Fayiz Al-Kandari, the Last Kuwaiti in Guantánamo, another prisoner of interest to Tom and Andy was notified that he too will be heading home soon. Tom used to represent Fayiz, and Andy visited Kuwait three years ago, while Tom was there, to try to work towards his release -- and the release of Fawzi al-Odah, who was freed last year.
On September 11, as Andy reported in his most recent article, 97-Pound Yemeni Hunger Striker Appears before Periodic Review Board As Saudi is Approved for Release from Guantánamo, another prisoner, Muhammad al-Shumrani, was approved for release, while on September 22 Moath al-Alwi, a Yemeni, became the 18th prisoner to ask a review board to approve his release.
The review boards were established in 2013 to review the cases of all the prisoners who are not facing trials or were not previously approved for release by the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established in 2010, and although they are moving slowly they have an impressive success rate. 15 prisoners have had decisions taken by review boards, and in 13 of these cases the review boards have recommended them for release-- even if, as with Fayiz al-Kandari and Muhammad al-Shumrani, they have only done so after a second review.
This 87% success rate does, however, come with a caveat. Although 13 men have been approved for release by PRBs, just three have been freed. Six of those ten men still held are Yemenis, and their approval for release means only that they join 43 other Yemenis who were approved for release since 2010 but are still held, because of an unwillingness on the part of the administration to repatriate Yemenis, for whom, instead, third countries must be found that are prepared to offer them new homes.
In conclusion, then, President Obama needs to speed up the reviews, as there are 45 men awaiting reviews who have not had them yet, and, in addition, the president needs to find homes for all the men approved for release -- all 53 of them, out of the 114 men still held, most of whom, as noted above, were told the U.S. no longer wanted to hold them over five years ago.
With thanks, as ever, for your support.
The "Close Guantánamo" team
P.S. Please, if you will, also ask your friends and family to join us -- just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email. Please also note that we can be found on Twitter here and on Facebook here.