Guantanamo detainees may get family visits: Report

The ICRC monitors conditions at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Washington: The Pentagon is considering allowing the families of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to visit them, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing congressional aides.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which monitors conditions at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, has been in serious discussions with the Pentagon about a visitation program, the congressional aides told the newspaper, speaking on condition of anonymity.

An ICRC spokesman, Simon Schorno, was quoted as saying the organisation would not comment on its confidential dialogue with the US government.

But he said that "regardless of where detainees are held, particularly in the context of long-term detention, the ICRC will always work for the detainees and their families to be in contact with one another, including through family visits."

A Pentagon spokesman said the Defence Department allowed family visits at detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not at the Guantanamo Bay facility.

"As a matter of policy, we do not comment on any discussions with the International Committee of the Red Cross. We are constantly reviewing detention policies with regard to our detention operations globally," Pentagon Spokesman Colonel David Lapan said.

US President Barack Obama pledged to shut down the Guantanamo Bay facility in the first year of his presidency and transfer its inmates to prisons in the United States. But he has not been able to overcome political opposition to his effort to close the prison for terrorism suspects and enemy combatants.

The prison still holds 172 people, down from 245 when Obama took office in January 2009.

Bureau Report

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