UK reiterates willingness to consider US request to accept Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] UK Justice Minister Jack Straw [official profile] said Monday that his country would still be willing to consider a US request to take in terrorism detainees held by at the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detention center, if doing so would aid in the closure of the facility. Speaking at a meeting with his US counterpart, Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile], Straw said that the UK would consider any request [Daily Mail report] made by the administration of US President Barack Obama [official profile] to take in Guantanamo detainees, in order to support Obama's decision to close [executive order; JURIST report] the controversial facility. However, Holder said that no such request [AP report] has been made.

Obama's order directed that the military prison be closed "as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order." The order did not specify where detainees would go upon release, but did call for diplomatic efforts with foreign states in order to facilitate the closure of the facility. Earlier this month, France agreed [JURIST report] to accept one Guantanamo detainee. Last month, top officials from the Obama administration met with leaders from the European Union (EU) [official website] to discuss plans to transfer [JURIST report] Guantanamo Bay detainees to European countries. Individual member states have also indicated their openness to accepting detainees, including Lithuania, Ireland, Germany, and Portugal [JURIST reports]. Other states have expressed reservations about accepting detainees, including Poland and Spain, while Italy [JURIST reports] and the Netherlands [AFP report] have said they will not accept detainees. In January it was reported that the British government was preparing to take in Guantanamo detainees [JURIST report] after officials said in December that they might be wililng to consider detainees on a case by case basis.

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