A Way Out of Guantanamo? « The Washington Independent
John Bellinger, the State Dept.’s counsel, calls this a “major milestone” in the effort to close the Guatnanamo Bay indefinite-detention complex. Portugal has agreed to take custody of Guantanamo detainees who have been cleared by the U.S. kangaroo-court process but who can’t go home, because their home countries would very likely torture or otherwise persecute them, and sending such people to such countries is a violation of international law. The New York Times reports:
“The time has come for the European Union to step forward,” Portugal’s foreign minister, Luís Amado, said in a letter to other European ministers released Thursday.
“We should send a clear signal of our willingness to help the U.S. government in that regard, namely through the resettlement of detainees,” the letter said. Mr. Amado pledged that Portugal would participate in a European Union resettlement program.
Amnesty International released this statement yesterday that I was kind of too swamped to blog:
“The E.U. and European states should show leadership and heed Portugal’s call to put the need to protect Guantanamo detainees who cannot return to their home countries high on the agenda,” said Amnesty International today as it welcomed the Portuguese Foreign Minister’s commitment to offer protection to Guantanamo detainees who cannot return to their countries of origin, calling on other E.U .states to do the same.
“Governments across Europe should follow Portugal’s bold lead and be part of the solution to end the human rights scandal of Guantanamo,” said Daniel Gorevan, who coordinates the Counter Terror with Justice Campaign at Amnesty International.
And Human Rights Watch released this one:
“For years, the US has been unable to convince its European allies to accept Guantanamo detainees who cannot be sent back home,” said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel for Human Rights Watch. “For the first time an EU government is publicly pushing to make that happen, and others should echo Portugal’s call.”
For some people, Guantanamo was a symbol of international lawlessness and a cynical betrayal of America’s proudest traditions. For other, more venal people, Guantanamo was a place where detainees could eat orange chicken, giving torture and indefinite detention a high caloric value. Thanks to Portugal, there’s really no excuse for President-elect Obama not to follow through on his pledge to shut this disgusting place down.