[JURIST] German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere [official website, in German] announced Wednesday that Germany would accept two detainees from the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detention facility. The announcement came after months of negotiations with the Obama administration, which originally asked Germany to take up to 10 detainees [JURIST report] from the facility. The German government indicated in April that it was considering accepting three detainees [JURIST report], but de Maiziere stated the country is only accepting two of the prisoners because it could not guarantee the third prisoner would not be a threat to German security. De Maiziere also emphasized that Germany had informed the US it would not consider any further requests [DW report] to accept detainees. German critics of the plan to accept detainees have expressed concern that their presence could radicalize the Muslim population within the country. De Maiziere, however, has noted that Germany has an ethical obligation in helping to close the facility. Hamburg and the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate have each agreed to accept one detainee [Reuters report], who are expected to be settled in Germany within the next two months. There are currently 181 detainees remaining at the Guantanamo facility.
The Obama administration continues its push to close the Guantanamo Bay facility, despite missing its self-imposed one-year deadline [JURIST report] in January. The administration has run into several hurdles in closing the prison, including opposition from members of Congress and the suspension of detainee transfers to Yemen [JURIST report]. In May, the US House Armed Services Committee [official website] approved a bill [JURIST report] prohibiting the Obama administration from modifying or building a facility in the US to hold detainees currently held at Guantanamo. The bill requires [summary, PDF] that any plan to construct or modify US facilities to accommodate Guantanamo transfers be “accompanied by a thorough and comprehensive plan that outlines the merits, costs and risks associated with utilizing such a facility.” As the Obama administration has not presented such a plan to Congress, the bill prohibits the use of any funds for the purpose of preparing a US facility for Guantanamo transfers. The number of detainees at Guantanamo has been significantly reduced as the administration continues to transfer detainees to a growing list of countries including Italy, Spain, Maldives, Georgia, Albania, Latvia, Switzerland, Slovakia, Algeria, Somaliland, Palau, Belgium, Afghanistan and Bermuda [JURIST reports].