Politics

Afghan President Hamid Karzai Supports Closing Of Guantanamo Bay Prison

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai has added his two cents to the Guantanamo Bay debate, supporting Obama’s insistence that the prison facility should be closed.

"I have from the very beginning been a very strong supporter for the closing down of the Guantánamo prison," Karzai told reporters during a visit to Denmark, according to The Associated Press.

Obama reminded everyone of his first-term promise to close the prison in a statement on Tuesday, explaining that the facility is costly, ineffective, and hurting the international American reputation.

"The notion that we’re going to continue to keep over a hundred individuals in a no-man’s land in perpetuity,” he said, “The idea that we would still maintain forever a group of individuals who have not been tried – that is contrary to who we are, it is contrary to our interests, and it needs to stop.”

Obama’s comments are partially in response to the prisoners' hunger strike, as 100 of the 166 detainees have been refusing to eat since February.

Though Obama signed an executive order requiring the prison to be closed during his first term, Congress placed blockades to prevent the executive order to be carried out.

In order to close the prison, the Obama administration must find a path for its detainees, who are living in a perpetual limbo, to get out of the prison. In order to leave, the prisoners must go through a civilian trial, a military tribunal, be admitted by a foreign country’s prison system or be set free. So far, 86 of the detainees are considered safe to be set free, but the U.S. has nowhere to send them to as many of their home countries either won’t take them or will torture them.

Congress has blocked any possible trial or tribunal routes by passing legislation to disallow the federal government to fund trials for Guantanamo prisoners.

Karzai, however, is one of the few international leaders talking with the U.S. about releasing Afghani prisoners at Guantanamo. Karzai and the Obama administration were able to recently reach a deal that will transfer a detention facility in Afghanistan to the Karzai government, which could perhaps include the transfer of Aghani Guantanamo prisoners there as well. 

Sources: Washington Post, Reuters, The Hill