Guantánamo Advocates Condemn 19th Anniversary of Indefinite Detention

Biden Must Take Swift Action on Gitmo Before Men Die

January 11, 2021, New York –
On the 19th anniversary of the transfer of the first Muslim men to Guantánamo, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:

Today marks the beginning of the 20th shameful year of Muslim men being unlawfully imprisoned at Guantánamo. Even in a national landscape of brutal and extreme incarceration, the detentions of the men at Guantanamo – all of whom face life imprisonment without charge or fair trial – are unprecedented and yet largely invisible by now. For the 40 Muslim men who remain trapped there, including our six clients – one of whom has been cleared for release for years, another of whom the United States openly acknowledged it tortured, and yet another who cut his wrists out of desperation about his fate – Guantánamo is an active site of trauma and despair. Yet, despite all that our clients have endured, they dare to hope for a life beyond Guantanamo, and we must fight for that. As the country transitions to a new administration, it is more vital than ever that closing Guantanamo once again becomes a policy priority. President Biden can and must take immediate action on the prison: appoint senior officials to carry out the mandate of closure;  release the men the government has not charged by now, starting with the six men already cleared for transfer; abandon the military commissions system; and bring existing cases of men who have been charged to federal court. Biden must reaffirm his commitment to closure and take the necessary action to accomplish it before we have to mark the 20th anniversary next year. 

The Center for Constitutional Rights represents six men who are still imprisoned, nearly two decades after they were taken into custody: Sufyian Barhoumi, Sharqawi Al Hajj, Mohammed al Qahtani, Abdul Razak Ali, Guled Hassan Duran, and Majid Khan. For more information about the Center for Constitutional Rights’ work to close Guantánamo, visit our issue page.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for 19 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that nearly all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international courts.

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


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January 11, 2021