[JURIST] Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende [official profile] said Tuesday that the Netherlands would be willing to consider accepting Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees, despite earlier statements to the contrary. Meeting with US President Barack Obama [official website] in Washington, DC, Balkenende said that his country might accept transferred detainees [Dutch News report] if it would help to close the detention facility [JURIST news archive]. The Netherlands had initially denied [NRC Handelsblad report] US requests that other countries consider accepting detainees who could be returned to their home country, saying that the primary responsibility rested with the US. Balkenende had signaled a potential shift in the policy in an interview [video] with Radio Netherlands Worldwide [media website] earlier this month.
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, Ireland, and Portugal [JURIST reports]. Other states have expressed reservations about accepting detainees, including Poland and Spain [JURIST reports].