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Fifty prisoners to face indefinite detention, US media say

Some 50 Guantanamo detainees are to be held indefinitely without trial, according to a Washington Post report citing US officials on Friday. The decision has been criticised by human rights organisations.


AFP - The Obama administration wants to keep some 50 Guantanamo detainees locked up indefinitely because they are too dangerous to release and evidence against them is insufficient for a criminal trial, the Washington Post said Friday.

On the anniversary of President Barack Obama's executive order to close the "war on terror" prison within a year, the daily said a Justice Department-led task force had found that 50 detainees -- of 196 remaining -- should be held without trial under the laws of war.

Under the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that granted the prisoners the right of habeas corpus, however, the individuals may still challenge their detention in civil cases against the government.

The task force divided up the remaining Guantanamo Bay detainees into three main groups, the Washington Post said, identifying 35 who should be prosecuted in federal or military courts, at least 110 who can be either immediately or eventually released, and around 50 who must be held without trial.

The group of 110 prisoners cleared for release consists of two separate categories, one with some 80 detainees, including about 30 Yemenis, who are eligible for immediate repatriation, or resettlement in a third country.

But a second group of 30 Yemenis are barred from release until their home country's political stability is assured, the Post said, citing administration officials.

Washington had previously halted transfers of detainees back to Yemen following the botched Christmas Day bomb plot claimed by Al-Qaeda militants in the Gulf state.

"We're still moving forward and in a much more deliberate and less haphazard manner than was the case before," an administration official told the newspaper.

"All policies encounter reality, and it's painful, but this one holds up better than most," the official said.

Human rights organizations and legal experts have criticized Obama for keeping prisoners locked up indefinitely.

"There is no statutory regime in America that allows us to hold people without charge or trial indefinitely," insisted Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

For the prisoners not pegged for release, the government has pinpointed a rural Illinois prison to take in an as-yet undetermined number -- a decision late last year that sparked outrage among Republicans in Congress who don't want to see any detainee transferred to US soil.


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