Australia to consider accepting released Guantanamo prisoners

[JURIST] A spokesman for Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd [official website; BBC profile] said Saturday that Australia would be willing to consider acceptance of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees on a case-by-case basis, according to a report in The Australian. Rudd's spokesman confirmed that Australia, along with other countries, has been approached by the United States concerning prisoner resettlement possibilities. Australia strongly supported US policy in the "war on terror" under the leadership of former prime minister John Howard and was complicit in the Guantanamo detention of Australian national David Hicks [JURIST news archive], who was finally transferred to Australian custody in 2007. While no final decision [JURIST report] on the closure of the detention camp has been reached, US President-elect Barack Obama [transition website] remains committed to closing the facility.

The prospect of closing Guantanamo Bay has raised concerns about where to relocate the released prisoners. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently ordered the Pentagon [JURIST report] to draft a proposal for closing the facility in anticipation of a possible presidential order. Germany and Portugal [JURIST reports] have both stated a willingness to accept Guantanamo detainees in support of the facility's closure and have urged other countries to do so as well. The Netherlands, on the other hand, has said it will not accept detainees [AFP report] for resettlement and Spain has expressed strong reservations. The United Kingdom has said it will consider transfers on a case-by-case basis. French officials Friday suggested a unified European Union stance [JURIST report] on the issue but France has not explicitly expressed a willingness to accept detainees itself. France holds the European Union presidency through December 31.



 

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