Seldom has a prison caused so much controversy, coming to symbolise for many everything that has gone wrong with US policy. There are in fact several prisons at Guantanamo Bay: one, closed down in 2002, was called Camp X-Ray; one of the others is called Delta.
When the US began transferring Taliban and Al Qaeda suspects there, the numbers rose to 750. Today more than 200 are still being held, and there are questions about where they will end up. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said: “The Guantanamo issue is an American issue. It belongs to the US Government. We would like them to resolve it.” While they have joined calls for Guantanamo’s closure, European countries are divided on the question of whether to take in ex-inmates. Also, the legal process to redefine the prisoners’ status is expected to be long and complex. So far only two cases have been concluded before the special military commissions that were set up. Jennifer Daskal at Human Rights Watch said: “There are 18 cases that are currently pending before the military commissions, or were currently pending when Barack Obama took office. So, prosecutors will go to the judges in each of those cases and request delays in those cases. This order doesn’t address what to do with the other 230 detainees at Guantanamo who are not facing military commission charges.” Among those being held are detainees cleared of charges of being so-called “enemy combattants”. The problem is they now have nowhere to go: they are not welcome in the US, and not keen to go home, where some claim they would face persecution. Swiss politician Dick Marty looked into claims of secret CIA renditions of suspects. He said: “It’s fair that European countries try to help find a solution to this problem because European countries actively, or at least passively, collaborated in the commission of unlawful acts in the name of this so-called war against terrorism.” It is reported about 80 Guantanamo suspects are considered likely candidates for any eventual trial.