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EU backs Gitmo prison closure but wary of accepting inmates

60 Comments

European Union nations expressed support Monday for US moves to close the Guantanamo "war on terror" prison camp but few are keen to accept the freed detainees.

EU foreign ministers, at talks in Brussels, underlined the need to help President Barack Obama close the notorious prison at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, which has blighted America's moral standing in the world.

But despite their desire to reach out to the new U.S. leader, legal procedures differ in each of the 27 European Union nations and defining a common stance on the way some of the 245 inmates would enter is virtually impossible.

"There was nobody very hot about this, that's perfectly true," Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, conceded after hosting the meeting.

"Due to the legal situation, we can't give a quick answer," he told reporters, noting that as yet "there was no official request to the European Union" from the United States anyway.

He said that EU justice and interior ministers would also have to be involved in drawing up any response the bloc might make, meaning that a common position may be some way off.

Earlier, Portugal's Prime Minister Luis Amado, who has led calls to help Obama, said that the EU needs "a common umbrella so that the different member states can deal with the United States."

He said up to seven states might be ready to host released inmates.

The camp, with its special military tribunals, has been condemned as a legal black hole that used evidence obtained by force and denied defendants their rights.

Around 60 prisoners might have to be transferred to other countries because they could face the death penalty at home, while others could be tried in U.S. courts. Some may prove impossible to try, transfer or release.

Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said the EU could face legal obstacles over refugee and humanitarian issues if some inmates apply for asylum or if they are considered at risk of persecution in their home countries.

"If there are some people who are not tried in the U.S. in national tribunals and they get a refugee status, we'll have to look at that individually," he said.

The EU also has to "look at this from a humanitarian, human rights perspective. If there are people who were not tried they are free but can't go back to their own country. Europe should take our responsibility," he said.

His Luxembourg counterpart, Jean Asselborn, said: "They haven't been charged with anything at all, for the moment in any case, so maybe they haven't committed any crime."

For some European nations, divided by former President George W Bush's war in Iraq, Guantanamo is a U.S. problem that America alone must fix.

Austria insists that accepting inmates poses legal problems and that it has received no request from the United States.

The German government is divided over the issue.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said London had already made a "significant contribution."

"We've already taken back nine of our citizens, we've committed to take back six of our residents, and in that sense we've done our bit. We've played an important role in showing that this can be done in a safe and secure way," he added.

A high-level EU delegation, including the bloc's justice commissioner, Czech presidency and anti-terror coordinator, will travel to the United States in February to establish what help Washington needs.

"We need to have some European light shed on this," said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country could accept former prisoners on a case-by-case basis.

© Wire reports

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

60 Comments
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Send them to Texas and let retired commander-in-chief Bush look after them. Or drop them from where they were picked up, why bother EU?

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Once you get down to brass tacks, I think that several Europeon countries have some of their national citizens in Gitmo. Not just Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. < :-)

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Hypocrites.

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Sarge, why are countries now suddenly starting to willingly cooperate with the U.S. rather rthan having to be forced, bribed or threatened to do so?

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Bush messed up and now they looking for stupid to take prisoners. You mess up US you take care

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Sushi, why are countries unwilling to take Gitmo inmates?

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but wary of accepting inmates" why, I thought they were all innocent!

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why are countries unwilling to take Gitmo inmates?

It's a mess the US made. It's up to the US to clean up.

Countries who opposed Gitmo in the first place should not be expected to deal with the damaged souls coming out of it.

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I'm sure the prisoners would be happier in Islamic countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia.

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sarge,

sarge,

Why don't you take them? You supported the idea of snatching people up and holding them without charging them of any crime. Now that the rule of law has been re-established, you want others to bail you out?

Be a man. Take some accountability for your beliefs, for cryin' out loud. At the very least, you should offer to pay for their room and board.

Taka

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@skipthesong

I thought they were all innocent!

They are all innocent - not having had trials. They very well may be very bad people, but prove it before you lock them up for life.

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why are countries unwilling to take Gitmo inmates?

Damaged goods.

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why are countries unwilling to take Gitmo inmates?

Because they are quite happy with where they are at now. They just don't want to say it out loud.

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There are a lot of countries that sacrificed money, countrymen and honor to go into Iraq and then find out that it was all for a lie. Several of these countries that gave up a lot to be ask to take back people who may or may not be terrorist, but no matter what they have been locked up for years for a trumped up war.

No body wants them after all this. george bush really screwed up. < :-)

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why are countries unwilling to take Gitmo inmates?

You break it, you buy it.

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I like the House Republicans recommendation that the Islamo-fascists in Gitmo be housed on Alcatraz. It's in Speaker Pelosi's district, and the majority of folks in SF, most 'liberal' city in America, undoubtedly believe that the terrorists are all good people at heart.

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Like a handful of Islamic supremacists on the loose are going to make that big a difference on a continent whose unelected bureaucrats and media elites are determined to remake Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain and The UK into Eurabia.

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TJ: They are all innocent - not having had trials. They very well may be very bad people, but prove it before you lock them up for life."

That's very western of you. We could take the non-western approach, and cut off their heads without a trial.

And for those that say supporters of gitmo need to take them in, no. Its not them that are trying to close it. Its not them that have put them on a pedestal above those victims of 9-11. Its you. You want the place closed, you want them to run free, you feel they are innocent to run amok without proof of their innocence, you take them in.

recommendation that the Islamo-fascists in Gitmo be housed on Alcatraz" you didn't see "The Rock" did you.

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For those who are not going to be charged and prosecuted for a crime - I say safely return them to the same location they were snatched from. Safely may mean clandestinely, so that the local government does not get to torture them without first having to catch them. I would also give them wages – so they can start over or where ever they left off from.

For those who are tried and convicted – there should be plenty of cells available since imprisonment in the US is a business.

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recommendation that the Islamo-fascists in Gitmo be housed on Alcatraz" you didn't see "The Rock" did you."

can you imagine an Islamo fascist on the street of SF? Everything about SF goes against their beliefs. Man, if they escaped, they would think they found themselves in hell. Besides, I love San Francisco. It is probably the most beautiful cities in the world and America's most beautiful.

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skipthesong

We could take the non-western approach, and cut off their heads without a trial.

Is that your proposal? Seriously - a few no doubt deserve this as an end result, but why before a trial? What is it about providing a trial that is so difficult?

Could it be that most, or some, were simply in the wrond place at the wrong time - and that there is no reason to hold them at all?

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Put them a homestay with an American family! They'll love the U.S. in no time!

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What is it about providing a trial that is so difficult?

Bush started that process with the Military Tribunals. The compassionate left had a fit that it wasn't good enough.

Now Obama has cancelled the tribunals. His Administration wants a better system then the one Bush's came up.

He is in the same quandry that the Bush found himself in. What do you do with people who have renounced their own countries citizenship and are stateless fighters? They sure aren't entitled to Geneva Convention rights. There is been pretty much universal agreement on that. I haven't seen a single state demand that they be given that protection.

We all want, except for the extremists on the far left and far right, a system that does try to hold to our to our western concepts of justice but not to the extent that we afford our own countrymen. Bush tried to accomplish that with the tribunals. Obama has also discovered that this isn't a problem that lends itself to a pithy slogan solution. He has given himself a year to try to cobble something more palatable to our sense of justice then Bush did.

Let's not lose sight of something here. Since GITMO was established it has been a lightning rod for people to slam the Bush. My opinion, his administration did the best it could cobble together under the circumstances. Obama will do the best his administration can do to improve on that ad-hoc system. Starting with just symbolically closing the place in a year and just shifting the the detainee's address to Ft. Leavenworth. It's just a 'feel good' thing to do that though at this point, since he hasn't figured out yet what he is actually going to do with this guys either.

This is a lot tougher than slogans people mouthed the last few years now isn't folks?

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Dear Gitmo "detainees" We have some good news and bad news The good news is we are releasing you from here by the end of the year The bad news is you will have a sex change operation before you are released -- what size berka to you take?

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"You break it you buy it"

Translation: Yeah, we'll let the U.S. bear the burden of keeping us free.

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Sarge, you won't take any? But I thought you wholeheartedly supported their detention? Now that the system is fraying, you're not willing to stump up and take responsibility?

Why, oh why, doesn't that surprise me? :-)

"bear the burden of keeping us free."

Straight from the well-worn little phrasebook of the worst president in U.S. history.

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The name 'Alcatraz' whould be changed to something like 'Paradise' or 'The Mosque'.

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Sarge: why are countries unwilling to take Gitmo inmates?

They're more than happy to lecture without responsibility. It's what they do... ;)

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TJrandom: Could it be that most, or some, were simply in the wrond place at the wrong time - and that there is no reason to hold them at all?

So the rest of the world is hesitant to take these people who were most likely just in the wrong place at the wrong time? How heartless!

RELEASE THEM NOW (but not to my country)!

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They're more than happy to lecture without responsibility

Why should other countries take responsibility for US mistakes?

So the rest of the world is hesitant to take these people who were most likely just in the wrong place at the wrong time? How heartless!

If they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, no reason why they can't stay in the US. If they're dangerous (more than likely after 6 years in Gitmo - if they were dopey goatherds when they went in, there's every chance by now they've learned to hate the Great Satan), don't try to fob them off on your allies.

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cleo: Why should other countries take responsibility for US mistakes?

I know, I know. You're just here to criticize from the sidelines. Trust me, I get it....no need to keep reminding me. ;)

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Send them all to Israel.

Problem solved.

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All European countries recognize the UN international criminal tribunal system. So the ONLY way in which any European country can accept to imprison anyone from Gitmo is after they had their trail at the UN court. Only problem is the US refuses to recognize the UN court as a means to protect their own citizens from prosecution. So the choice is simple, recognize international justice or deal with your own problems.

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Tex - Har!

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skip -

Its not them that have put them on a pedestal above those victims of 9-11. Its you. You want the place closed, you want them to run free, you feel they are innocent to run amok without proof of their innocence, you take them in.

Needlessly inflammatory statement, not to mention wrong. The victims of 9-11 are precisely the reason we need to ramp up our efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan - to bring OBL to justice.

Ontopically, we do not want Gitmo inmates to "run free" IF they are tried and found guilty of criminal activity. As for "proof of their innocence", you know as well as the rest of us the concept of innocent until proven guilty. This is why we have trials. It's also one of the ideas I serve to protect.

Personally, I believe the issue here is not the physical closing down of Gitmo; rather, it is the idea associated with Gitmo of holding people there indefinitely and without charge. I would like to separate the guilty from the innocent - through the institution of legal trial. Those that are found not guilty should be freed. As for those found guilty, I have no problem with keeping them in Gitmo or Alcatraz or any other maximum security prison, particularly for committing crimes against the US and/or its citizens.

Bottom line: your statement that anyone wants to simply release all Gitmo inmates, regardless of guilt, is ridiculous.

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The problem that has cropped is one lamb who was found innocent and released, then went back to become a Gitmo survival hero and sub commander of an Al Qu'aeda group in Yemen, mouthing off vitriolic hate language.

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Wrong place at the Wrong time? Sure were. In a battle shooting at US and coalition troops? Sounds like POWs to me. No trials for them just incarceration till the War on Terra is done. Till then get a Koran and a mat and lovely orange coveralls.

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That's the EU for you. Two faced on every topic.

We should probably let the inmates go back to their home countries and let it be at that. Some might get loose but "justice" in the arab countries is a lot worse than Gitmo.

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Sounds like POWs to me.

Except when it comes to giving them the rights afforded to POWs in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

Change in definition in 3...2...1...

Taka

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"Except when it comes to giving them the rights afforded to POWs in accordance with the Geneva Convention"

Grieving widow of servicemember killed by Gitmo detainee: Why is this scumbag still alive?

Government spokesman: Ma'am, he has rights under the Geneva Convention.

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Grieving widow of servicemember killed by Gitmo detainee: Why is this scumbag still alive? Government spokesman: Ma'am, he has rights under the Geneva Convention.

Following that line of logic, every soldier/insurgent captured by the opposing force should be killed, correct? John McCain shouldn't even be a alive, he no doubt left a few grieving widow's in Vietnam.

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Good Jorb - "Following that line of logic, every soldier/insurgent captured by the opposing force should be killed, correct? John McCain shouldn't even be alive, he no doubt left a few grieving widows in Vietnam"

Please do not try to compare John McCain, a war hero who has helped preserve your freedom, with the murdering scumbags at Gitmo who would torture and kill you without hesitation or remorse.

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Sarge -

Please do not try to compare John McCain, a war hero who has helped preserve your freedom, with the murdering scumbags at Gitmo who would torture and kill you without hesitation or remorse.

Please don't use your cut-n-paste crap to try, judge, and execute people who haven't yet been charged with any wrongdoing. In particular, quit trying to speak on behalf on "grieving widowes of servicemembers" when you have no idea whether any Gitmo detainee ever killed anyone; how could you know - they haven't been tried yet.

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Cleo puleeze...

"Why should other countries take responsibility for US mistakes?"

You Brits and French should easily know the answer to that ! Noooo, I'm not gonna run down the inexhaustable list of countries colonized by the British or the hundreds of times the US has bailed France out of another mess. But such drivel coming off your keyboard is truly... disappointing.

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USAFdude...

"you have no idea whether any Gitmo detainee ever killed anyone; how could you know - they haven't been tried yet."

Interesting catch 22. So how can Obama justify closing gitmo with the possibility of letting them free ? The solution ... maybe they can come and stay at "your" house. Ready to welcome them in ?

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mrgalactic -

You mean that lonnnnng list of events where the UK and France insisted on going their own way even though their friends and allies were telling them it was Not a Good Idea?

Sorry, can't seem to find any such long list.....

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-Cleo

A slight but valid change in your sentence and you should be able to find a long enough list.

A list of events where the UK and France insisted on going their own way even though the ingenious people of the colonized(occupied) countries were telling them it was not a good idea or they were unwelcome guest.

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mrgalatic swings and misses - Let me put this clearly enough for sarge and you to understand: If they're at Gitmo, try them. If they're found guilty, keep them there or put them in some other maximum security prison, even if it's in the US. If they're found not guilty, set them free.

That's as "bare-bones" as I can put. Sorry, but I don't speak Moronese.

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Good Jorb -

Sorry no, that's not a valid change. The ingenious (indigenous?) people of Afghanistan and Iraq did not think the invasion of their respective countries was a good idea, and judging from the way they keep getting blown up even now, it seems the Americans are unwelcome guests in both countries. And I'm pretty sure the goatherds incarcerated in gitmo do not think their sale for bounty and incarceration is a good idea, regardless of how welcome they're made to feel, with a Koran in every toilet and all. So I'm afraid that doesn't put the US on the moral high ground at all.

Or are you saying that when a country is stupid enough to repeat history, everyone else should rally round to help them make even more of a pig's ear of things?

USAFdude -

It's amazing how people who pride themselves on belonging to the land of the free cannot or will not understand such a simple idea. Isn't it supposedly what the justice system is based on?

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Well, Cleo, I honestly think most of the right-wingers here don't even believe what they're saying. It's all to get people fired up. How could any American believe it's OK to incarcerate anyone without charges and trial, especially those who claim to be/have been in the military?

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Cleo, does the comedy never end ? Last I checked, your Britain was more than in favor of jumping on Bush's bandwagon to enter Iraq and take part in the follies. In fact, Britain went as far as to have two seperate cabinet discussions just to make sure that wht they were about to do was "legal"... March 13 and then the 17th of 2003. You inference to unilateralism, as usual, just doesn't hold up to scrutiny... the coalition of the willing included a total of 44 countries ! Might I suggest that folks like Cleo worry more about their own governments actions before lashing out at others.

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USAFdude,

"If they're at Gitmo, try them. If they're found guilty, keep them there or put them in some other maximum security prison"

Gee, isn't that what's going to happen ? What's the hurry ? Many of the people who captured these scum are busy out there defending your right to free speech and endless babble on the internet all day.

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What's the hurry ?

Try being incarcerated without charge for 6 years or so, then come back and tell us how you feel about that one.

Britain was more than in favor of jumping on Bush's bandwagon

Blair, for all his many faults, claims never to have been in favour of Guantanamo:

"I have always said it is an anomaly, and sooner or later has to be dealt with," the prime minister told a news conference

Asked whether it was government policy that Guantánamo should be shut down, he (Peter Hain, the NI Secretary) replied: "That's what I think."

"We've always said that Guantánamo Bay was something that should not have happened."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/feb/17/politics.guantanamo

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mrgalactic -

Gee, isn't that what's going to happen ? What's the hurry ?

Why the delay? Afraid of what you'll find?

Many of the people who captured these scum are busy out there defending your right to free speech

And I'm out there alongside them defending yours. Come join me.

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wuzzademcrat: Get your facts right with concerning how we treated terrorists compared to Gitmo.

Gotmo, don't wear their own clothes and have 24 hour association. Strewth, America demanded having Gitmo, let them deal with the blokes in there. If you make up your own rules in war and that and torture innocents, you have got your hands dirty, and you have to sort it out yourseleves like.

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So I'm afraid that doesn't put the US on the moral high ground at all.

I wasn't trying to say the US on the moral high ground, in fact quite I was trying to the opposite, I was saying that France and Britian are just as bad as the USA and therefore none of them have the moral high ground.

Or are you saying that when a country is stupid enough to repeat history, everyone else should rally round to help them make even more of a pig's ear of things?

No, I was thinking that the opinions that really matter in this case, are those of Iraqi's and Afgani's and not the EU.

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On the need to delay trials for the gitmo prisoners USAFdude asks...

"Why the delay? Afraid of what you'll find?"

My response is simple:

"Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri, or former prisoner number 372 at gauntanamo bay prison, has been elevated to the senior ranks of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, a US counter-terrorism official told AFP."

Hmm.

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Hmm indeed... seems theres more, at least off the AP news wire:

"The Defense Department has said as many as 61 former Guantanamo detainees -- about 11 percent of 520 detainees transferred from the detention center and released -- are believed to have returned to the fight.

The latest case highlights the risk the new US administration faces as it moves to empty Guantanamo of its remaining 245 prisoners and close the controversial detention camp within a year."

"Risk" you say ... Nah, not according to USAFdude.

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mrgalactic -

And were those 11% given proper trials and duly judged not guilty in a recognised court of law before they were released? Or was their release as shoddy and slipshod as their initial incarceration?

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cleo;

Have fun with mrgalactic - there is a whiff of something vaguely chimpy, or perhaps yarinny, about his posts.

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