File photo of US President Barack Obama.
US President Barack Obama has promised to make a new attempt to close the military prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, amid an ongoing hunger strike by detainees.
“I continue to believe we have to close Guantanamo. I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe,” Obama said on Tuesday.
The announcement calls for the formation of a team of officials who will review the notorious prison and then draw up plans for its closure.
Afterwards, the proposal will be submitted to Congress to help find a long-term legal solution to the problem of prosecuting terror suspects.
“It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruiting tool for extremists,” Obama said.
Most of the 166 detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison have been cleared for release or were never charged - a situation that has attracted outcry from certain countries and human rights organizations.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urged Obama to mend the situation in Guantanamo amid an ongoing hunger strike that started on February 6.
Some 130 prisoners began the hunger strike to protest against prison conditions and the detainees’ indefinite confinement.
On March 7, 2011 Obama signed an executive order to formally continue the system of indefinite detention at the Guantanamo military prison, after signing an executive order two years earlier to shut down the facility.
The inmates have been kept at Guantanamo without charge since early 2000s.
The Guantanamo detention facility was initially established at a US naval base in Cuba on January 11, 2002, under former US President George W. Bush.