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Transfer of Juvenile Detainees Completed

Department of Defense News Release No. 057-04
January 29, 2004


The Department of Defense announced today that it transferred three juvenile detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They have been released to their home country today.

Defense Department senior leadership, in consultation with other senior U.S. government officials, determined that the juvenile detainees no longer posed a threat to our nation, that they have no further intelligence value and that they are not going to be tried by the U.S. government for any crimes. As with all detainees, these juveniles were considered enemy combatants that posed a threat to U.S. security, and their transfer for release was contingent upon this determination.

The juveniles were removed from the battlefield to prevent further harm to U.S. forces and to themselves. Two of the three juvenile detainees were captured during U.S. and allied forces raids on Taliban camps. One juvenile detainee was captured while trying to obtain weapons to fight American forces.

Age is not a determining factor in detention. We detain enemy combatants who engaged in armed conflict against our forces or provided support to those fighting against us.

After medical tests determined all three juveniles were under the age of 16, the juveniles were housed in a separate detention facility modified to meet the special needs of juveniles. In this facility, they were not restricted in the same manner as adult detainees and underwent assessments from medical, behavioral, educational, intelligence and detention specialists to address their unique needs while detained at Guantanamo.

With the assistance of non-government organizations (NGOs), the juveniles will be resettled in their home country. It was our goal to return them to an environment where they have an opportunity to reintegrate into civil society.

While at Guantanamo, every effort was made to provide the juvenile detainees a secure environment free from the influences of the older detainees, as well as providing for their special physical and emotional care. While in detention, these juveniles were provided the opportunity to learn math, as well as reading and writing in their native language. Each took part in at least a portion of the opportunity to better themselves through education and participated in courses to improve their literacy and social skills. The juveniles also participated in daily physical exercise and sports games.

We are concerned al Qaida or Taliban sympathizers may threaten the safety of these juveniles. For this reason, we will not provide their names publicly or further details regarding their capture and release.

As we have stated in the past, the evaluation of the detainees is a time-consuming and deliberate process. To date, 87 detainees have been released. Four other detainees have been transferred to the Saudi Arabian government for continued detention. We stand firm on our commitment to release detainees when we are able to determine that they no longer pose a threat to our nation, that they are of no intelligence value and that they are not appropriate for criminal prosecution.

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