WASHINGTON— 15 Guantanamo Bay detainees has been transferred to the United Arab Emirates on Monday by the U.S. President Barack Obama, hoped to close the prison during his first year in office, but he faces opposition from many Republican lawmakers as well as some fellow Democrats.
“The United States is grateful to the government of the United Arab Emirates for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close Guantanamo,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The transfer of 12 Yemeni nationals and three Afghans to UAE is one of the largest movement in Obama’s push. Now 61 detainees are remaining from the 242 men at Guantanamo, which was opened in January 2002.
Republican Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement that . “In its race to close Gitmo, the Obama administration is doubling down on policies that put American lives at risk.”
“Once again, hardened terrorists are being released to foreign countries where they will be a threat,” he said.
Naureen Shah, Amnesty International’s U.S. director for security and human rights said. “I think we are at an extremely dangerous point where there is a significant possibility this is going to remain open as a permanent offshore prison to hold people, practically until they die.”
“It weakens the U.S. government’s hand in arguing against torture and indefinite detention,” she said.
The prisoners who were transferred to the UAE is widely believed that they have undergone some sort of government – monitored rehabilitation.
Clive Stafford Smith , the director of the British – based advocacy group Reprieve said. “ From what we ’ve learned , they’ve been treated pretty well ,” he said. “ They ’ve been banned from traveling and any meaningful communication . . .. They ’ ve actually been OK . Arabic is the main language and its pretty close to home .”
He also said that. “President Obama is the most powerful person on the planet. There are only 61 people left there, 21 have been cleared so that will leave at most 40, probably fewer. If the most powerful person on the planet can’t do something about 40 people and Guantanamo Bay, which a is a blot on the American copybook and is costing over $3m per prisoner a year – he really shouldn’t be president.”
There was also no immediate reaction in Afghanistan on the transfer of the three Afghans from Guantanamo to the UAE .