[JURIST] Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern [official profile] announced Wednesday that Ireland will accept two detainees [press release] being released from the US prison facility at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. The detainees will not be admitted as refugees, but rather with permanent residency rights [Guardian report], allowing them to work and move freely. Ahern said:
During my time as Minister for Foreign Affairs, I was the first EU Minister to call for the closure of the detention facility. The Government has consistently called for its closure since then. In making this decision I am conscious of the intention of the United States to close the centre at Guantanamo Bay, in part by transferring detainees, no longer regarded as posing a threat to security but who cannot return to their own countries, to other countries willing to accept them.
No timetable has been established for the transfer of the detainees, believed to be Uzbek nationals, but a transfer is expected within the next several months.
Earlier this month, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende [official profile] said that the Netherlands would be willing to consider [JURIST report] accepting Guantanamo Bay detainees, despite earlier statements to the contrary. Last month, Council of Europe (COE) [official website] Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg [official profile] urged [JURIST report] all member states to welcome certain released Guantanamo Bay detainees. A week earlier, the Council of the European Union [official website] agreed [JURIST report], which set forth the terms of accepting detainees in a way that would minimize any danger posed to other member states. In March, US officials met with leaders from the EU to discuss plans [JURIST report] to transfer detainees to European countries. Many countries have indicated their openness to accepting detainees, including Tunisia, Lithuania, and Portugal [JURIST reports]. Other states have expressed reservations about accepting detainees, including Poland and Spain [JURIST reports].