[JURIST] Australian acting prime minister Julia Gillard [official profile] on Friday said it was "unlikely" that the country would accept foreign detainees [press release] released from the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] military prison, but that her country was considering a second request to do so by the administration of US President George W. Bush [official website]. Gillard's statement comes after opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull [official website] strongly criticized [press release] a reported decision [Australian report] by the government of Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd [official website] to accept the detainees. In her statement, Gillard said that Australia had not agreed to accept the detainees, but was considering the move:
The Bush Administration first approached Australia in early 2008 with a request to resettle a small group of detainees from Guantanamo in Australia. After appropriate consideration, Australia declined to allow resettlement of that small group in Australia.A Friday report in the Australian quoted [report text] US major general and former military commission [JURIST news archive] appointing authority John Altenburg [DOD profile, PDF] as warning that other detainees had gone "back on the battlefield" after being released [JURIST report] from the base. Australia has already accepted the return for former detainee and Australian citizen David Hicks [JURIST news archive], but announced [JURIST report] that it would also consider accepting detainees with no connection to the country last week.
The Bush Administration approached Australia again in early December 2008 with a second request to assist with relocation. Australia, as an ally of the United States, is examining this second request. Notwithstanding that it is unlikely Australia would accept these detainees, given the fact that the Bush Administration has formally approached Australia with this request, the request demands proper consideration.
Britain, Germany, Ireland, and Portugal [JURIST reports] have already said they will consider taking in released Guantanamo detainees, although other countries have been notably reticent [JURIST report]. On December 18, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ordered the Pentagon to draft a proposal for shutting down [press release; JURIST report] the military prison at Guantanamo Bay in preparation for a possible order from President-elect Barack Obama. The US government has reportedly been in contact with some 100 foreign governments asking them to consider taking in detainees who it says cannot be returned to their home states.