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Poland minister 'not eager' to accept Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski [official profile] expressed reservations Saturday over the prospect of accepting detainees released from Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] as part of a US strategy to close the prison. In an interview [excerpts, in Polish] with the Dziennik daily, Sikorski ventured that "the establishment of prisons outside the US legal system was one of the more serious errors of the George W. Bush administration" and said he was “not eager” to take in prisoners from Guantanamo, who “would be quite a challenge” for the Polish prison system due to language and other difficulties. The head of Poland’s Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs, Krzysztof Lisek, expressed similar concerns [Polskie Radio report] earlier last week, noting the “cramped conditions in the jails and a notorious lack of places.”

The prospect of closing Guantanamo Bay has raised questions about where to relocate released prisoners. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently ordered the Pentagon [JURIST report] to draft a proposal for closing the facility in anticipation of a possible presidential order. Germany and Portugal [JURIST reports] have both stated a willingness to accept Guantanamo detainees in support of the facility's closure and have urged other countries to do so as well. The Netherlands, on the other hand, has said it will not accept detainees [AFP report] for resettlement and Spain has expressed strong reservations. The United Kingdom and Australia [JURIST report] have said they will consider transfers on a case-by-case basis. French officials Friday suggested a unified European Union stance [JURIST report] on the issue but France has not explicitly expressed a willingness to accept detainees itself. France holds the European Union presidency through December 31.

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