[JURIST] The British government is willing to help the United States close the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] military prison by accepting some released prisoners who have no previous connection to the UK, the Times reported Thursday. The paper quoted unnamed officials who indicated that the Foreign Office was the department most supportive of the position, although accepting non-UK detainees for resettlement may pose immigration and other problems affecting other government ministries. UK officials said previously they might consider accepting detainees on a case-by-case basis [JURIST report], and that may still be the case, but the officials quoted in the Times appeared to endorse a more pro-active policy in assisting the new US administration as it moves towards eventual closure of the controversial facility. Britain's opposition Conservative Party has urged the government [Independent report] to clarify its position.
Germany and Portugal [JURIST reports] have already said they will consider taking in released Guantanamo detainees, and have encouraged all EU member states to cooperate in formulating a plan for accepting prisoners who cannot be returned to their homelands because of risk of torture. On December 18, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ordered the Pentagon to draft a proposal for shutting down [press release; JURIST report] the military prison at Guantanamo Bay in preparation for a possible order from President-elect Barack Obama. The US government has reportedly been in contact with some 100 foreign governments asking them to consider taking in detainees who it says cannot be returned to their home states. Last Tuesday, US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack called the European response to the need to relocate detainees "quite encouraging" [press conference transcript], although some EU states have been notably reticent [JURIST report].