Holder: Gitmo will close, despite “improvements”

US Attorney General Eric Holder Feb. 25 confirmed the Obama administration’s intention to close Guantánamo Bay in 2010 despite his belief that the facility is now well-run and that detainees are treated appropriately by guards. After visiting the prison earlier this week, Holder told reporters that he was impressed with what he saw there. His comments stand in direct contrast to statements made earlier this week by Reprieve human rights lawyer Ahmed Ghappour, who said that complaints of beatings and other abuses have increased substantially since December as guards supposedly anticipated closure and stricter restraints imposed by the new administration. Reprieve currently represents 31 Guantanamo detainees.

Holder’s visit to Guantánamo Bay was part of the Justice Department’s effort to carry out US President Barack Obama’s Jan. 22 executive order freezing the military commission system, calling for the review of US judicial policy towards the detainees, and directing the closure of Guantánamo within one year. Earlier this week US Navy Admiral Patrick Walsh presented a report pursuant to the same order concluding that the prison now meets the requirements of the Geneva Conventions, although it may not have done so in the past. (Jurist, Feb. 26)

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