[JURIST] The US has not formally asked the European Union (EU) [official website] to accept detainees from Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] following US President-elect Barack Obama's planned closing [JURIST report] of the facility, according to a Thursday statement from European Commission vice president Jacques Barrot [official profile] during the Informal Meeting of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs [press release] in Prague. Closing the facility will require relocating the prisoners to avoid persecution from their home countries. Barrot has pledged [AP report] to discuss the issue with US officials. Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer [official website] said Thursday that the EU needs to know the expectations of the new US administration. Although Germany [JURIST report] previously expressed an interest in accepting detainees, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble rejected this notion [Deutsche Welle report] on Thursday, saying that the prisoners are the responsibility of the US.
On Sunday, activists in Prague held a protest [?TK report] to urge the EU to aid in the closing of the Guantanamo facility. Britain, Ireland and Portugal [JURIST reports] have all expressed an interest in accepting detainees although the EU has yet to reach a unified stance [JURIST report] on the issue. Australia recently rejected [JURIST report] a second request from the Bush administration to accept Guantanamo detainees.