EU member states to consider accepting Guantanamo detainees after screening

[JURIST] Council of the European Union [official website] Secretary-General Javier Solana [official website] on Monday said that while the US bears ultimate responsibility for detainees released from the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] military prison, several EU member states would likely be willing to accept [press release, PDF] some former prisoners. Solana made the statement during a European Commission meeting of 27 EU members in Brussels. Following the meeting, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner [BBC profile] said that many of the countries would condition their acceptance [AP report] of the prisons on US providing proof that they pose no danger to the host country. Kouchner also said that legal obstacles facing the transfer of the detainees would be different for each host country, and that their acceptance would be determined on a case-by case basis. France has been one of the EU's most fervent advocates of closing the facility, and in a Monday phone call [press release] with US President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged the country's assistance in the plan.

Last week, Obama issued an executive order [text, PDF; JURIST report] directing the closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp within a year. Obama's order directed that the military prison be closed "as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order." The order also instructed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates immediately to halt military commission [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] proceedings pending a comprehensive review of all Guantanamo detentions under the supervision of the Attorney General. The order did not specify where detainees would go upon release, but it did call for diplomatic efforts with foreign states in order to facilitate the closure of the facility. Obama's order has been hailed [JURIST report] by leaders around the world.

 

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