US transfers 2 Uighur Guantanamo detainees to Switzerland News
US transfers 2 Uighur Guantanamo detainees to Switzerland

[JURIST] Two Uighurs held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archives] were transferred to Switzerland [press release] on Wednesday. Switzerland granted humanitarian type B residence permits allowing the two to live in the canton of Jura. Both have agreed to respect Swiss laws, learn the local language, and secure gainful employment. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] reported that the detainees had been cleared for release [press release] by the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force and were transferred pursuant to an agreement with the government of Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Council announced [press release] earlier this month that it would provide sanctuary, despite warnings [JURIST report] from Chinese officials that doing so would jeopardize relations between the two countries.

Of the 22 Uighurs originally detained at Guantanamo Bay, 15 others have also accepted offers of relocation to other countries. Six Uighurs were transferred to Palau, four to Bermuda and five to Albania [JURIST reports]. This transfer comes after the US Supreme Court on Monday declined to rule [JURIST report] in Kiyemba II, a case regarding issues surrounding the transfer of Uighur Guantanamo Bay detainees. Lawyers for four Uighurs detained at Guantanamo were appealing [JURIST report] an April ruling [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Columbia Circuit, which held that US courts cannot prevent the government from transferring Guantanamo detainees to foreign countries on the grounds that detainees may face prosecution or torture in the foreign country. The case is separate from a case the court remanded [JURIST report] to the DC circuit court earlier this month, known as Kiyemba I. The Chinese government maintains that the Uighurs are members of 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 previously rejected China's calls to repatriate [JURIST report] the Uighurs, citing fear of torture upon their return.