Bermuda decision to take Uighurs beyond territorial powers: UK

[JURIST] The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) [official website] on Thursday criticized Bermuda Premier Ewart Brown [party profile] for failing to consult with London before agreeing to accept four Uighur Guantanamo detainees [JURIST report]. Bermuda is a UK territory, and although it is self-governing, the UK remains responsible for matters of foreign policy and security. Bermuda considered accepting the Uighurs to be an immigration issue, which is within their jurisdiction. A spokesperson for the FCO said that Bermuda should have consulted with the UK [BBC report] but that Britain will now help the Bermudan government to conduct a security assessment of the detainees. Also Thursday, Bermudan opposition leaders criticized [Royal Gazette report] the decision to accept the detainees, calling them potentially dangerous. Then men will be allowed to live and work freely in Bermuda and may eventually be allowed to pursue citizenship.

Thirteen Uighurs still remain in US custody at Guantanamo. The Uighurs' release was ordered [opinion and order, PDF; JURIST report] by a US district court in October, but that decision was overturned [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] in February by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website]. They have appealed [JURIST report] to the US Supreme Court [official website]. If the remaining Uighurs are transferred before the Court decides to hear their case, it will likely be dismissed as moot. On Wednesday, Palau President Johnson Toribiong said that his government had reached an agreement with the US to accept [JURIST report] all 17 Uighur detainees. US officials said later that no final agreement had been reached. On Thursday, Torigiong said that the offer was motivated by human rights concerns [JURIST report] and not by the Chinese government's reaction. Also Thursday, the Chinese government again demanded the repatriation of the Uighurs. The Chinese maintain that the Uighurs are members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) [CFR backgrounder], a militant group that calls for separation from China and has been a US-designated terrorist group since 2002. The US has previously rejected China's calls to repatriate [JURIST report] the Uighurs, citing fear of torture upon their return.



 

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