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Biden follows in Obama's footsteps – Seeks to close Guant Γnamo

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Biden follows in Obama's footsteps - Seeks to close Guant Γnamo

The administration of Democratic President Joe Biden has launched a formal assessment of the future of Cuba's Guantanamo Bay military prison, reviving the goal set by former President Barack Obama to close it, a senior White House official said today.

Two sources told Reuters that advisers involved in the discussions were considering whether Biden would sign an executive order in the coming weeks or months. This would signal a new attempt to erase this “stain” from the international image of the United States, as described by some human rights organizations.

Such an initiative, however, is unlikely to “close the curtain” any time soon on Guantanamo Bay's high-security prison, largely because of the political and legal obstacles the government will face.

The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was established after the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington to house foreign terror suspects. But it went so far as to symbolize the excesses of the “war on terror” declared by the United States, largely because of the harsh interrogation methods that some say amount to torture.

National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horn told Reuters that “a process is under way to assess the situation inherited by the Biden government from the previous government, in line with our broader goal of closing Guantναnamo”. He added that the Council would work closely with the Ministries of Defense, Justice and Foreign Affairs, as well as with Congress.

The immediate effect of this approach would be to restore, to some extent, the Guantanamo Bay closure policy pursued by former President Barack Obama. Trump overturned this policy when he took office in 2017, but although he kept the prison open, he never filled it with “bad guys,” as he once said he would do. There are currently 40 detainees at Guantναnamo, most of whom have been there for two decades without trial or charge.

During the campaign, Biden's staff said they supported the prison closure, but did not say how.

Biden, Obama's vice president, is likely to face the same political, legal and diplomatic obstacles as his predecessor. The prison set up by George W. Bush once housed 800 inmates. Obama significantly reduced their number, but in his attempt to close it met with strong resistance from Republicans in Congress.

The federal government is prohibited by law from transferring prisoners to prisons on the mainland. One strategy Biden could pursue is to further reduce their numbers by repatriating them or finding other countries willing to accept them.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump's controversial immigration policy, under which asylum seekers were sent back to Mexico until their case was considered by US authorities, will end next week, the government of Democratic President Joe Biden announced today.

“From February 19, the Department of Homeland Security will begin the first phase of its program to restore a secure and coordinated process on the southwestern border,” the statement said.

In this way, immigrants sent back under the “Remain in Mexico” measure will be allowed to cross into American territory.

This measure of the Trump administration, which came into force in 2019, did not concern the Mexicans but all the others who reached the southern border of the USA through Mexico. Asylum seekers had to remain on the other side of the border until their application was considered, a fact that had been strongly criticized by civil rights groups. As part of this program, at least 70,000 people (most of them from Central American countries) were sent to Mexico, causing a humanitarian crisis, combined with a pandemic, in the region.

A U.S. government official said the demands of some 25,000 people were still being considered.

Source: politis.com.cy

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