Magazine article European Social Policy

Guantanamo : Europe Gets Answers from Washington

Magazine article European Social Policy

Guantanamo : Europe Gets Answers from Washington

Article excerpt

The debate on the possibility of Europe taking in ex-inmates of the Guantanamo prison camp is expected to switch into higher gear soon. The European Commission has just received a request from the United States, which "officially seeks an active EU role," it announced, on 3 April in Brussels.

The official request also contains the US responses to some 15 security questions, notably on the profile of the former prisoners, raised in mid-March in Washington by Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner Jacques Barrot and Czech Home Affairs Minister Ivan Langer.

The EU's Council of Home Affairs Ministers will be debating the issue, on 6 April in Luxembourg, at its working lunch. According to the commissioner, the first information "reflects a firm will to create a framework of cooperation meant to facilitate bilateral agreements with the member states interested in taking in the former inmates". He welcomes the will of the US authorities "to provide all the information necessary for the case-by-case analysis of the situations of those currently detained" and welcomes the commitment reiterated by the United States to combat terrorism in "full respect of democratic values".

Upon taking office in mid-January, President Barack Obama announced that he would close within a year the camp that had come to symbolise the abuse of the Bush administration, where presumed terrorists are deprived of their rights. Although a few countries, including France, Spain and Portugal, have said they are prepared to cooperate "case by case" - or are even already in contact with Washington - most have misgivings. …

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