December 24, New York – In response to President Obama’s signing yesterday of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:
During his last few weeks in office, President Obama should be doing everything in his power to empty Guantánamo. By signing the NDAA, he has instead continued restrictions that make it more difficult to do just that. Because of the fits and starts of his administration’s efforts over the years, Guantánamo will be left to an incoming president who has vowed to re-fill it and has no apparent interest in releasing men who have already been held for nearly 15 years without charge, who can only be expected to endure so much.
Fifty-nine men remain detained at Guantánamo, 23 of them cleared for release. Congress has already been given notice that most of these cleared men will be transferred; the President must ensure that those transfers actually happen before he leaves office. For a small handful of cleared men, the Defense Secretary has reportedly failed to provide such notice in time to transfer them before January 20th. But even under the terms of the new NDAA, President Obama can release these men without the useless ritual of 30 days advance notice to Congress by agreeing to court orders disposing of their cases through transfer. Only this critical action can save the handful of other cleared men, including our client Sufyian Barhoumi, from being left to their fate under the Trump administration.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for nearly 15 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. CCR is responsible for many Guantanamo cases in many venues, representing men in their habeas cases in federal court and before the military commissions and Periodic Review Boards, the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking accountability in international courts.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.