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Protests To Mark Fifth Anniversary Of Guantanamo

Guantanamo Bay prison facility (file photo) (AFP) January 11, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Activists are expected to hold a series of protests in countries around the world today to mark five years since the first detainees arrived at the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at the Guantanamo Bay naval base on Cuba.

Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are marking the anniversary with fresh calls for the U.S. government to close the Guantanamo facility, saying the detainees should be charged with crimes or released.

Amnesty International Secretary-General Irene Khan said in a statement that no individual can be placed outside the protection of the rule of law, and no government can hold itself above the rule of law. She called on the United States to immediately shut Guantanamo and end what she called a "travesty of justice."

Washington has said the prison is a necessary part of the war against terrorism, and that information gathered from detainees there has helped thwart terrorist threats and save lives.

The first detainees to be sent to Guantanamo were captured in the U.S.-led war on the Taliban in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Officials say more than 750 suspects from 45 countries have been held at the facility. About 400 detainees are now being held there. None have faced trial.

(with material from Reuters, AFP)

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