Teens at Guantanamo

The first book on the Albert Whitman Teen list is Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera. It is a fictional account of a 15-year-old British Muslim boy held at Guantanamo Bay. Perera began writing the book after she learned that there were, in fact, children as young as 12 at the Guantanamo Bay Prison.

Many of the early readers of the book here in the United States have asked for more details about the real teens at Guantanamo Bay. Here are links from around the world – reporting varying numbers of juvenile detainees, ranging from 3 to 60 – as well as news stories about one Canadian teenager.

The Guardian UK, April 23, 2003
“The three boys are not the only inmates under 16 to have been brought to Guantanamo Bay.”

USA Today, January 29, 2004
“The U.S. military on Thursday released three teenage boys — believed to be between the ages of 13 and 15 — who had been accused of supporting the Taliban and had been held at the prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Pentagon announced.”

The Independent (UK), May 28, 2006
“Lawyers in London estimate that more than 60 detainees held at the terrorists’ prison camp were boys under 18 when they were captured.”

UC Davis, News and Information, June 7, 2011
Fifteen juveniles spent time as prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp — three more than the U.S. State Department had publicly acknowledged, the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas reported today on its website.

# # #

Omar Khadr, often referred to as Guantanamo’s youngest detainee, was captured at the age of 15 in 2002. He was eventually tried and found guilty in 2010.

The Huffington Post, February 11, 2008
“Nothing quite prepares you for the reality of justice, Guantanamo style. It’s not the endless security checks, the first sight of a Guantanamo detainee or that a military prosecutor begins his legal argument by describing how he salutes the flag during his morning run. No, it’s the growing realization that not only is this small courtroom on the far corner of the island of Cuba going to deal with some fundamental issues about the rights to a fair trial and the law of war, but that this defendant, one of the first of any of the several hundred Guantanamo detainees to face any charges, is a very special case. He is facing charges for alleged offenses committed at the age of 15, as a child soldier.”

CNN, July 15, 2008
“The lawyers for Omar Khadr, now 21 and still at Guantanamo, released the 10-minute 2003 segment on the Internet early Tuesday before releasing about eight hours of interrogation footage in Edmonton, Alberta, in the afternoon.”

The Christian Science Monitor, August 9, 2010
“A military judge ruled Monday that statements made by Omar Khadr, who is charged of killing a US soldier in Afghanistan, can be used in the trial, which is set to start Tuesday. Mr. Khadr’s lawyers say the statements were coerced.”

Fox News, November 1, 2010
“The long-running case of a onetime teenage Al Qaeda fighter may be over, but the question of how much longer he will spend behind bars is still somewhat up in the air.”

Teens at Guantanamo