Ireland Wants Gitmo Prisoners

Ireland is set to offer homes to prisoners from Guantanamo Bay detention center as EU governments prepare to back their words of support for President Barack Obama with action to help the new U.S. leader close the facility. Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, initially opposed to taking in detainees, signaled a softening of his stance when noting that Obama's decision to suspend military trials at Guantanamo had created "a new context." Ahern said Ireland would now be prepared to resettle Guantanamo detainees if there was a common EU approach. "While all countries will have to have regard to difficult security issues which arise, Ireland would, of course, be prepared to play its full part," Ahern said. The Green Party, a minority member of the governing coalition, has already named one specific detainee who should be accepted in Ireland. Ciaran Cuffe, the Greens' Justice Spokesman, said Ireland should accept for resettlement an Uzbek national who has been detained at Guantanamo Bay for the past seven years. He said there was a strong case for accepting 30-year-old exonerated detainee, Oybek Jamoldinivich Jabbarov, who was living as a refugee in Afghanistan when he was captured in 2001. He has been cleared for release but remains at the detention center because he cannot return to Uzbekistan for fear of torture and persecution. Several EU governments pledged after last week's inauguration to forge a new relationship with the incoming White House administration. But prior to a meeting in Brussels of foreign ministers it was unclear how far the European countries are prepared to go in absorbing Guantanamo detainees cleared for release. The British government has already brought home 13 detainees who are either U.K. nationals or who have rights of residence, and has requested the return of two further residents. But Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell indicated his government was "not planning to go beyond that" and take in Guantanamo detainees with no U.K. links. Also, the Dutch government has been outspoken against resettling detainees. It has argued that Washington opened the camp and should take responsibility for those it incarcerated. Among those in favor - as well as Ireland - of giving asylum to some detainees against whom there is insufficient evidence, or who could face torture or ill-treatment in their own countries, are the governments of Portugal, France, Germany and Sweden. Europe's human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, says European countries should help. The council's commissioner for human rights Thomas Hammarberg said, "While the U.S. has created the Guantanamo problem and has the primary responsibility for correcting the injustices, there are strong arguments for European assistance in closing Guantanamo Bay."

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