Detainee cells. Photos: Julie Schwietert
Even before his inauguration, President Obama was working on making good on a campaign promise: closing the detention facility located on the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The original plan was to shutter the detention facility by January 2010–eight full years after the U.S. started housing alleged Al-Qaeda and Taliban loyalists there–but recent reports have indicated that the administration is concerned it will not be able to meet that deadline.
The sticking point–as I predicted after my visit to the base and detention facility last November–has been figuring out what to do with all of the detainees who have been cleared for release but who have no place to go.
Slowly, though, nations are beginning to express their support for closing Guantanamo by agreeing to take in detainees who are eligible for release but are unable to return home.
Last month, Ireland agreed to take two people currently being detained at the facility. This week, Portugal agreed to offer special visas to two Syrians being held at Guantanamo. And the agreement between the U.S. and Palau that was forged a couple months ago finally seems to be taking shape: the tiny island nation will take between four and 13 Uighurs eligible for release.
Still, there are more than 200 detainees who–for various reasons–are unable to return to their home countries and who need a third country to take them in. Read more about the issue in this article.
What do you know about Guantanamo? Here are 5 Things You Should Know About Guantanamo.