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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Europe parliament urges EU acceptance of transferred Guantanamo detainees
Caitlin Price at 10:30 AM ET

[JURIST] The European Parliament [official website] on Wednesday overwhelmingly adopted a resolution [text, DOC] encouraging European Union (EU) member states to assist the closure of the the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] military prison by accepting former prisoners for resettlement. The measure, which passed 542-55 with 51 abstentions, noted that though ultimate responsibility for the inmates lies with the US, EU member states if asked should act:

to cooperate in finding solutions, to be prepared to accept Guantanamo inmates in the Union, in order to help reinforce international law, and to provide, as a priority, fair and humane treatment for all; recall[ing] that Member States have a duty of loyal cooperation to consult each other regarding possible effects on public security throughout the Union.
The resolution also called for the US to ensure protection of the detainees' fundamental rights by holding fair trials where necessary, expeditiously repatriating those prisoners who will not be charged, and offering asylum or humanitarian protection to those who cannot return to their home country for fear of persecution. The vote followed a floor debate, with members of the Christian Democrat, Socialist, and Liberal parties showing strong support [BBC report] for accepting detainees. On Tuesday, European Commission Vice President for Justice, Freedom and Security Jacques Barrot [official website] said that EU member states willing to accept former prisoners may receive financial aid to assist the transfers [AP report], though no further details have been released.

Last week, Council of the European Union Secretary-General Javier Solana [official website] indicated that several EU member states would likely be willing to accept [press release, PDF; JURIST report] some former prisoners, though acceptance may be conditioned on the US providing careful background checks to prove that the detainees pose no danger to the host country. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner [BBC profile] has noted that legal obstacles facing the transfer of the detainees would be different for each host country, and that their acceptance would be determined on a case-by case basis. On January 22, US President Barack Obama issued an executive order [text, PDF; JURIST report] directing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to be closed "as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order."

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