The US military announced Sunday that a once-secret unit called Camp 7 inside the Guantanamo Bay detention center has been closed and the inmates transferred to another facility on the American base in Cuba.
In an attempt to “increase operational efficiency and effectiveness,” the prisoners at Camp 7 were moved to Camp 5, a facility adjacent to where the other inmates on the base are housed, according to a statement from Miami-based US Southern Command.
"The Commander of US Southern Command directed the consolidation which will increase operational efficiency and effectiveness, while reducing operational cost. This adjustment does not compromise force protection, safety, or the mission to provide safe, legal and humane care to, and custody of the detainees at Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay," the statement read.
The prisoners from Camp 7 were transferred to Camp 5 "safely and without incident," according to Southern Command, but it did not specify when the transfer took place. Camp 5, which was mostly vacant, is adjacent to Camp 6, which reportedly houses the remaining detainees. This will allow 40 Guantanamo prisoners to be contained in just two facilities.
"This fiscally responsible decision will reduce the detention facility’s footprint and will eliminate maintenance requirements and costs incurred by Camp VII," the statement continued.
According to an Associated Press report, officials previously stated that approximately 14 men were held in Camp 7 of the southeastern Cuba-based detention center.
The existence of Camp 7, also known as Camp Platinum, was kept secret for two years after its creation in 2006. This camp contained the prison's "especially valuable prisoners". One of the Camp 7 inmates, Somali citizen Gouled Hassan Dourad, reportedly said that the inmates of the camp are psychologically tortured every day in their prison cells.
It was run by the military under an arrangement with the CIA, and the transition was supervised by intelligence agencies, according to the US Southern Command.
The five prisoners charged with war crimes for their suspected roles in preparing and providing logistical support for the 9/11 terrorist attacks were among those held at Camp 7.
Following the 2001 War on Terror, a prison for international terrorists was built at the US naval base on the coast of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Human rights groups and international organizations have long called for the facility's closure, alleging mistreatment of inmates and violations.
The Biden administration has previously stated that it wants to close Guantanamo before the end of his term, but this would require congressional permission to transfer any detainees to the US for trial or incarceration.
Former US President Barack Obama signed an executive order to shut down Guantanamo in 2009. But Obama's intentions were unsuccessful as Congress refused to fund a prison closure. His successor, former President Donald Trump, after coming to power, formally repealed the decision. At the same time, new prisoners no longer come to Guantanamo. In total, roughly 780 prisoners have been kept in Guantanamo since its opening. The vast majority of them never went to trial.