US Military To Offer COVID-19 Vaccines To Guantanamo Bay Detainees - Reports

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 20th April, 2021) The US Southern Command, which is in charge of the Guantanamo Bay naval base and military prison, will begin offering vaccinations to inmates at the facility starting Monday, according to information received by the New York Times from a Biden administration official familiar with the Pentagon's plan.

"This is very much about the force protection of our people down there and the ability to move forward with the military commissions. We have a legal obligation under international law to properly vaccinate these detainees," the official said.

A memo from December of last year described the inmates as high-risk and cited both the Geneva Convention and Department of Defense guidelines as reasons to offer the vaccines.

The base has not reported any cases since officials announced that two military service members contracted the virus during the first month of the pandemic

Restrictions include a mandatory two-week quarantine for visitors to the base, including lawyers and Red Cross officials. Although trials and attorney visits have largely paused, lawyers who have been able to meet with their clients at the facility reportedly had to meet in conditions that made it difficult to communicate.

Major Gregory McElwain, a prison spokesperson from the US Southern Command, said the conditions were informed by CDC guidelines. He said that the prison officials have "a responsibility to maintain the health and safety of the detainees and guards."

The prison facility at Guantanamo Bay houses some of the most notorious and high-value prisoners, mostly accused terrorists, captured by the US. When officials first planned to begin vaccinating inmates earlier this year, they faced accusations of placing terrorist prisoners over US citizens. Since then, all of the military and civilian employees of the base have been offered vaccinations, thus prompting officials to begin offering them to inmates as of Monday.