Yemen -U.S. to establish rehabilitation center for Guantanamo’s returnees [Archives:2008/1190/Local News]

September 15 2008

Amel Al-Ariqi
SANA'A, Sept.11) According to the Yemeni news website,, the Yemen and American governments have agreed to establish a centre in Sana'a for the rehabilitation of Yemeni returnees from the United States' military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The website quoted a source as saying that the center would be funded by the U.S. government. The source did not reveal the date for opening the center, but declared that it would be set up in the near future.

While Yemen will take on the responsibility of rehabilitating these returnees intellectually and psychologically, the U.S government will fund the center and its facilities technically, said the source.

According to the source, that the rehabilitation program will include classes for the returnees, who will also attend workshops and professional seminars, where they will learn skills to enable them to reintegrate into Yemeni society.

The Yemeni and U.S governments went through tough negotiations in order to come to an agreement to release the Yemeni inmates who now form the biggest fraction of the military prison's population.

Of the 275 prisoners who remain at Guantanamo, nearly 100 are from Yemen, replacing Afghans and Saudis as the predominant detainee group as the jail population has declined from a peak of about 680 in 2003.

Although the U.S. and Yemeni governments have refused to publicly disclose details of their negotiations, the U.S. government said that it would return many Yemenis if Yemen gave the U.S. official assurances guaranteeing that the returned detainees wouldn't be tortured and also would join rehabilitation programs.

Yemen offered the U.S. a rehabilitation program for the returnees and the U.S. approved it. The program contributed to overcoming differences between the two sides, said the source.

So far only 13 Yemenis have been repatriated from Guantanamo since the prison opened soon after a U.S.-led campaign toppled Afghanistan's Taliban regime. After being returned to Yemen, they were arrested by Yemeni security, and detained at the Political Prison in Sana'a for many months before being released without charges.

The US military has reported that at least 10 percent of the prisoners at Guantanamo suffer from serious psychological problems.

In addition, U.S defense lawyers for Guantanamo's inmates said that the high number of prisoners suffering from mental illnesses was due to the extreme isolation in which they are kept.

The prison at Guantanamo Bay has witnessed four suicides along with dozens of suicide attempts, according to the lawyers.

“The ex-Guantanamo detainees who come back to Yemen suffer from serious psychological and physical problems