New Law Will Keep Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility Open at Least Another Year

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In this Tuesday, June 5, 2018 photo, reviewed by U.S. military officials, troops stand guard outside Camp Delta at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, in Cuba. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
In this Tuesday, June 5, 2018 photo, reviewed by U.S. military officials, troops stand guard outside Camp Delta at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, in Cuba. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

The detention facility for war on terror suspects at the Navy's base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will remain in place for at least another year and prisoner transfers to the U.S. will remain prohibited under the fiscal 2020 defense policy bill, signed into law last Friday by President Donald Trump.

Provisions in the new National Defense Authorization Act bar the use of funds for any attempt to shut down "Gitmo" and return the base to Cuba. They include prohibitions through Dec. 31, 2020, on transfers of the facility's remaining prisoners to the U.S. for prosecution or medical treatment.

The law also precludes the use of funds "to construct or modify facilities" in the U.S. that might be considered as an alternative to housing the prisoners at Guantanamo. The requirements fall in line with Trump's Jan. 2018 executive order to keep Guantanamo open indefinitely.

Related: Guantanamo Prison Looms as Option as US Withdraws from Syria

There are 40 prisoners remaining at Guantanamo of the approximately 780 prisoners who have been held there since the first group arrived from Afghanistan and Pakistan in January 2002.

Former President Barack Obama had pledged to close down Guantanamo and transfer the prisoners to the U.S. for prosecution, but his attempts were repeatedly blocked by Congress.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge brought on behalf of a Yemeni citizen held at Guantanamo regarding his indefinite detention without trial.

According to a September report by The New York Times, in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the total cost of running the Guantanamo detention facility in 2018 is at least $540 million.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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