Fifteen inmates from Guantanamo prison have been sent to the United Arab Emirates in the single largest transfer of detainees during President Obama’s administration.
The removal of 12 Yemeni nationals and three Afghans brings the number of prisoners down to 61 but it still doesn’t meet Obama’s promise to close the facility.
The US leader has consistently criticised the prison at the US naval base on Cuba.
“Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe, it is expensive, it is inefficient,” said Obama in 2013.
Opposition from Republican and some Democrat lawmakers blocked Obama from carrying out his pledge who wanted to respond to international condemnation over some inmates having been held without charge or trial for more than a decade.
Amnesty International has added its criticism with the organisation’s US Director for security and human rights, Naureen Shah saying that “keeping Guantanamo open gave cover to foreign governments to ignore human rights”.
“It weakens the US government’s hand in arguing against torture and indefinite detention,” she said.
Republicans claim that in Obama’s race to close the prison he was putting American lives at risk.
“Once again hardened terrorists are being released to foreign countries where they will be a threat”, said Republican Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
One of those going to the UAE is an Afghan national identified as Obaidullah, who has spent more than 13 years at Guantanamo. He had been accused of storing mines to be used against American forces in Afghanistan.
The UAE has already resettled five detainees transfered in November 2015.