N° 02/09



Washington, D.C., January 27, 2009 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its deep satisfaction over the decision by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, to close the detention center at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base within a period of no later than one year and to prohibit cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment in interrogations of detained individuals.


President Obama made these decisions on January 22, 2009, with the signing of the executive orders entitled “Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities” and “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations.” These decisions order government officials to immediately review the status of all individuals detained at Guantánamo and to ensure that the conditions of detention comply with all applicable national and international laws, including the Geneva Conventions. The constitutional privilege of habeas corpus of all detained individuals is also recognized, and the detention center at Guantánamo is ordered to be closed within a period of no later than one year.


The IACHR on several occasions had called for the closure of the Guantánamo detention center and for an investigation into allegations of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. On March 12, 2002, approximately two months after the United States began to transfer detainees to its base at Guantánamo Bay, the IACHR granted precautionary measures in favor of the detainees and requested that the government take the urgent measures necessary to have the legal status of the Guantánamo Bay detainees determined by a competent tribunal. On October 28, 2005, the Commission expanded the precautionary measures and requested that the United States thoroughly and impartially investigate all instances of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and that it prosecute and punish all those responsible. On July 28, 2006, the Commission issued Resolution No. 1/06, urging the United States to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility without delay, to remove the detainees in full accordance with international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and to take all necessary measures to ensure the detainees access to a fair and transparent process before a competent, independent, and impartial decision-maker.


In 2007 the Commission also sought permission to conduct a visit to the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base to monitor conditions of detention. The government granted permission, with the condition that the delegation would not be able to interview detainees. The Commission declined to carry out the visit under such limitations.   


The IACHR will continue to monitor the situation of the Guantánamo detainees until the definitive closure of the detention center and the determination of their legal status.


A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.



Useful links


Press Release 27/06: Inter-American Commission Urges Closure of Guantánamo Without Delay


Video and Audio of the hearing on Precautionary Measures for the Detainees at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, held on October 28, 2008, during the Commission’s 133rd period of sessions: Video in original languages / Video in English / Video in Spanish / Audio in original languages


Video and Audio of the hearing on Precautionary Measures for the Detainees at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, held on July 20, 2007, during the Commission’s 128th period of sessions (both in original languages).



Read this press release in Spanish / Lea este comunicado de prensa en español


Press contact: María Isabel Rivero
Tel. (202) 458-3867
Cell: (202) 215-4142

To subscribe to the IACHR press release mailing list, please type your e-mail address in this form.