[JURIST] The Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of the Interior [official websites, in Portuguese] announced Friday that the country will accept two Syrian [press release, in Portuguese] Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees in order to aid US efforts to close the facility. According to the statement, US special envoy Daniel Fried met with Portuguese officials in Lisbon and presented a specific request that Portugal accept the two detainees. Portuguese officials determined that accepting the detainees would not violate Porguese law and said:
The hosting of the Guantanamo detainees in Portugal is part of a shared effort with other European partners.No specific details were provided as to the identity of the detainees or when the transfer would take place.
The closing of the Guantanamo detention center has an undeniable range. This is a milestone for the revitalization of the transatlantic relationship and a victory for all those who advocate and promote respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism.
Portugal becomes the third European nation to formally agree to accept Guantanamo detainees. Last month, Ireland announced [JURIST report] that it would take two detainees. In May, Algerian Guantanamo detainee Lakhdar Boumediene [BBC profile] was released and sent to France [JURIST report]. Last month, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said that the Netherlands would be willing to consider [JURIST report] accepting Guantanamo Bay detainees, despite earlier statements to the contrary. In June, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg urged [JURIST report] all member states to welcome certain released Guantanamo Bay detainees. A week earlier, the Council of the European Union 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. Several states have expressed reservations about accepting detainees, including Poland and Spain [JURIST reports].