01/11/2012 07:59 am ET Updated Jan 11, 2012

Guantanamo Bay Anniversary: Detention Center Turns Ten

On January 11, 2012, the United States' detention center at Guantanamo Bay marked its 10th year in operation.

The U.S. base in Cuba received its first 20 detainees on January 11, 2002, who were imprisoned as part of America's global 'War on Terror.' Over the next ten years, 779 prisoners would be transfered to Guantanamo, according to U.S. figures. The detainees were considered 'illegal enemy combatants,' a definition that allowed the administration to hold them indefinitely and without charges.

Throughout the years, the facility has been heavily criticized. According to Human Rights Watch, only one of the remaining 171 detainees at Guantanamo faces formal charges.

"Human rights groups and lawyers for prisoners are dismayed that Obama not only failed to overcome resistance in Congress and close the prison, but that his administration has resumed military tribunals at the base and continues to hold men like [Suleiman] al-Nahdi who have been cleared for release," the Associated Press writes. "Critics are also angry over the president's Dec. 31 signing of the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision allowing indefinite military detention without trial."

From Human Rights Watch:

Many detainees at Guantanamo were subjected to painful stress positions; extended solitary confinement; threatening military dogs; threats of torture and death; and prolonged exposure to extremes of heat, cold, and noise that amounted to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

President Obama vowed to close the facility after taking office -- calling it a "betrayal of American values." Yet almost four years later, the Obama administration has been unable to live up to its promise. White House press secretary Jay Carney reiterated on Monday that the administration is committed to closing the base because "it's the right thing to do for our national security interests," the AP reports.

Today, 171 men remain detained at Guantanamo Bay. 36 are set to face trial on war crimes charges; 46 are considered too dangerous to be released but cannot be prosecuted; 57 men from Yemen are held because the U.S. does not want them to return to the unstable country; and congressional limitations prevent the release of 32 others.

Take a look at the startling facts and figures released by Human Rights Watch on ten years at Gitmo in the slideshow below.



Guantanamo Facts And Figures