EU and US agree on Guantanamo detainee transfer policies

[JURIST] The Council of the European Union [official website] and the US jointly released a statement [text, DOC] Monday outlining the terms of agreement for EU countries planning to accept Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees. Affirming that the US is primarily responsible for the closure of the detention facility [JURIST news archive] and finding residences for former detainees, the EU welcomed recent actions taken by the US that include setting a date for closing the facility, reviewing various policies, increasing transparency about past practices, and eliminating secret detention facilities. The framework includes a US agreement to share all available intelligence and information, including that of a confidential nature, with a country considering accepting a detainee in order to allow the country to make "an informed decision and conduct a proper security assessment." The US and EU also agreed to maintain the exchange of relevant information after a detainee is transferred. The US also agreed to consider contributing funds to offset the costs incurred by EU member states in accepting former detainees on a case-by-case basis. The statement addresses the past and present relationship between the EU and the US:


The European Union and the United States share fundamental values of freedom, democracy, and respect for international law, the rule of law and human rights. We, the leaders of the European Union and the United States of America, refer to the longstanding tradition of humanitarian assistance that is shared by the European Union and its Member States and the United States of America, our commitment to security, and our deep and abiding friendship. Efforts to combat terrorism should be conducted in a manner that comports with the rule of law, respects our common values, and complies with our respective obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, refugee law, and humanitarian law. We consider that efforts to combat terrorism conducted in this manner make us stronger and more secure.

The statement also addresses an intention for the EU and the US to continue working together to combat international terrorism and develop common policies, including semi-annual meetings with legal advisers from the Foreign Ministries of the EU member states and the US Department of State [official website] and representatives of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission [official website]. Also Monday, a spokesperson for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [official profile, in Italian] said that Italy would be willing to take in up to three detainees [AP report]. Italy had previously said that it was unwilling to accept detainees [JURIST report].

Last week, Council of Europe [official website] Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg [official profile] sent a letter [text] to all member states urging them [JURIST report] to welcome certain released detainees. The commissioner's request followed an agreement [JURIST report] made earlier this month by the Council of the European Union, which set forth the terms of accepting detainees in a way that would minimize any danger posed to other member states. The council agreed that member states should only receive detainees who are officially cleared for release, do not face prosecution in the US, and have compelling reasons to not return to their home countries. In March, US officials met with leaders from the EU to discuss plans [JURIST report] to transfer detainees to European countries. Many countries have indicated their openness to accepting detainees, including Tunisia, Lithuania, Ireland, and Portugal [JURIST reports]. Other states have expressed reservations about accepting detainees, including Poland and Spain [JURIST reports], while the Netherlands [AFP report] has said it will not accept detainees.

8:00 PM ET - After meeting with US President Barack Obama, Berlusconi has agreed to accept three specific Guantanamo detainees [press conference transcript] into Italy.

 

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