July 23, 2013, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released the following statement in reference to the upcoming Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights hearing on Guantanamo sponsored by Sen. Durbin:
We commend the Senate for holding the first congressional hearing on closing Guantanamo since Obama has been in office. Whatever the number of hunger strikers is on a given day, the emergency that led to the strike remains, and nothing that gave rise to the strike has changed. Eighty-six men who were cleared by the Obama administration remain detained. The inhumane, unethical, and widely-condemned practice of force-feeding continues. Counsel access to the base remains impeded because of genital searches and transport procedures that inhibit men from leaving their cells. Solitary confinement is still imposed.We welcome Congress shining a light on these issues and showing its support both for the men languishing at Guantanamo and for closing the prison altogether. But the bottom line is that there are 86 men the president could transfer out right now. He could also end force-feeding, solitary confinement and impediments to counsel access. These are realities that Obama can affect directly, on his own, now.Our clients have made their protest heard. Men like Djamel Ameziane, Mohammed Al Hamiri and Fahd Ghazy have been cleared for release by the Obama administration for more than three years; Al Hamiri and Ghazy can return home, and Ameziane, who cannot return to his country of origin, has current, viable resettlement opportunities. The choice is now with the administration. It can respond by resuming transfers, implementing concrete steps toward closing the notorious prison, and improving conditions at the base, or it can let this moment pass, let the status quo continue, and send the message that Guantanamo is indeed who we are.