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Rediff.com  » News » Trump signs order to keep infamous Guantanamo prison open

Trump signs order to keep infamous Guantanamo prison open

January 31, 2018 16:07 IST

United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order to keep open the controversial US prison at Guantanamo Bay, paving the way to transfer new terror detainees to the infamous facility in Cuba.

IMAGE: A US Army soldier closes the gate at maximum security prison Camp Delta at Guantanamo Naval Base. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Reuters

Trump announced the move during his first State of the Union address, reversing his predecessor Barack Obama’s decision to close the controversial site “as soon as practicable”.

The prison on the American military base at Guantanamo Bay has been used for years to detain high-profile terror suspects and enemy combatants. The facility has been criticised for its grim conditions.

IMAGE: The interior of an unoccupied communal cellblock is seen at Camp VI, a prison used to house detainees at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay. Photograph: Bob Strong/Reuters

“Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil. When possible, we annihilate them. When necessary, we must be able to detain and question them,” Trump said.

“But one must be clear: Terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy combatants. And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are,” he said.

IMAGE: A 'restraint chair' and other equipment of the type used in force-feeding detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison. Photograph: Matt Spetalnick/Reuters

Trump rued that in the past the US has “foolishly” released hundreds of dangerous terrorists, only to meet them again on the battlefield -- including the Islamic State leader Al-Baghdadi.

“So today, I am keeping another promise. I just signed an order directing (Defence) Secretary (James) Mattis to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay,” Trump said.

IMAGE: The interior of an unoccupied cell showing standard issue clothing given to prisoners is seen at Camp VI, a prison used to house detainees at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay. Photograph: Bob Strong/Reuters

The facility has been used since the 9/11 attacks to detain what Washington calls “enemy combatants”, but only 41 prisoners remain there.

“I am also asking the Congress to ensure that, in the fight against ISIS and Al Qaeda, we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists -- wherever we chase them down,’ he said.

 

Lalit K Jha
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