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Activists are campaigning for the closure of the detention center at the US base in Guantanamo, Cuba. There are currently 39 detainees there.

Twenty years after the September 11 attacks, the United States is still waging a “war on terror” on the hills of southeastern Cuba, known as Guantanamo Bay.

In the months following the attacks, the United States captured hundreds of men suspected of Al-Qaeda links and sent them to the Guantanamo naval base.

Qualified as enemy combatants, they have been deprived of rights and no timetable has been set for their trial or release, other than the end of the war on terror. which officially continues.

Most of the 780 inmates who were first locked in cages and then the hastily erected prison cells on the US military base have since been released, some after more than ten years of detention without charge.

Today, there are only 39 left. Some have obtained a promise of release which they are still waiting for, others are hoping for it.

But 12 of them are still considered dangerous by Washington, notably Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been arrested in Pakistan. After a 17-month hiatus, the preliminary hearings will resume, a few days before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Among these 12 men, two were sentenced: one to life imprisonment, the other is awaiting his sentence, as part of a plea-guilty procedure.

For the 10 other detainees at Guantanamo who have not yet been tried, the proceedings therefore continue, chaotic and fraught with interruptions.

Tuesday, after a 17-month hiatus due in particular to the COVID-19 pandemic, the preliminary hearings of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other detainees will resume, a few days before the 20th anniversary of the attacks .

The military commissions, exceptional judicial procedures put in place to judge them under the pretext of the extraterritoriality of the base, have indeed proved to be a cumbersome procedure, and often contrary to American law.

For Benjamin Farley, a Department of Defense lawyer defending one of the five defendants who appear again from Tuesday, these commissions are a failed experiment in ad hoc justice .

The US government has been accused of concealing or tampering with investigative material and spying on lawyers for detainees. Above all, the detainees claim to have been brutally tortured, which could cancel the whole procedure against them.

The result is that the last detainees could end their days in Guantanamo, notes Shayana Kadidal, of the non-governmental organization Center for Constitutional Rights. I think everyone knows that the commissions are a failure, he told AFPAgence France-Presse.

Isolated miles from the naval base, the Guantanamo military prison has been the scene of extensive interrogation, where methods such as simulated drowning have been used. © used.

It turned out later that the George W. Bush administration had no evidence of many inmates’ links to Al Qaeda or September 11, and they were Quietly released, some years later.

The rooms where hearings are held for prisoners of the “war on terror” at the US military base at Guantanamo in Cuba.

When Barack Obama succeeded him in January 2009, there were 240 remaining in Guantanamo Bay. Not only did the prison shame the United States, it had become what one US official called a propaganda tool for jihadists around the world.

One of Mr. Obama’s first decisions was to order the closure of Guantanamo in the year. But Congress, with a republican majority, prevented it from doing so. The Democratic President nonetheless pushed for the release of the majority of prisoners, and only 41 remained when Donald Trump came to power in 2017.

Mr Trump has interrupted these releases and has ruled out closing the prison, suggesting instead sending jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) armed group captured in Iraq and the North -East Syrian.

Mr Biden, who was Barack Obama’s vice-president, is in favor of closing the military prison, but analysts say he will try to avoid any confrontation with Congress. The generalization of COVID-19 vaccines allowed the resumption of military hearings in May, and the Democratic President began to quietly release those not charged .

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