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Palau offers to accept Uighur Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] Palau President Johnson Toribiong has said that his country is willing to accept [AP report] 17 Uighur detainees held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archives], according to a statement provided to the Associated Press Wednesday. A senior US official said later Wednesday that the US is still considering [AFP report] Palau's offer and that no final arrangement has yet been reached. Palau Ambassador to the US Hersey Kyota [official profile] said that the agreement would contain US aid for Palau. The Constitution Project [advocacy website] welcomed [press release] the possible agreement with Palau, saying it would "finally bring[] some modicum of justice for the 17 Uighurs at Guantanamo."

The Uighurs' release was ordered [opinion and order, PDF; JURIST report] by a US district court in October, but that decision was overturned [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] in February by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website], and the Uighurs remain in custody. They have appealed [JURIST report] to the US Supreme Court [official website]. Last week, the Canadian government refused a US request to accept the Uighur detainees. In May, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives [official website] proposed a bill [JURIST report] that, if passed, might block a proposed plan to accept up to seven Uighur detainees [JURIST report] into the US after US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] announced in March that the US would consider accepting all 17 detainees [JURIST report]. The US government has determined that the Uighurs are not unlawful enemy combatants [10 USC § 948a text; JURIST news archive], but have been linked with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) [CFR backgrounder], a militant group that calls for separation from China and has been a US-designated terrorist group since 2002. The US has rejected China's calls to repatriate [JURIST report] the Uighurs, citing fear of torture upon their return.

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