Thursday, December 11, 2008

Portugal offers to resettle Guantánamo detainees

Posted on Thu, Dec. 11, 2008 Miami Herald
European Union countries should offer to take in any detainees released from the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo, Portugal's foreign minister said in a letter published Thursday.

Portugal is willing to grant asylum to Guantánamo detainees who cannot return to their home countries, Foreign Minister Luis Amado said in the letter sent to his EU counterparts.

President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to close the detention center, currently holding some 250 men, at the U.S. Navy base on the southeastern tip of Cuba.

EU nations agree the prison should be closed. But human rights campaigners have said many inmates would face persecution if sent back to their home countries.

Amado said the EU ''should send a clear signal of our willingness to help the U.S. government resolve this problem, namely by taking in the detainees,'' according to the letter.

He said the EU has made progress on the legal considerations attached to such an offer, but he did not elaborate.

The letter was posted Thursday on the Portuguese government's website. It was sent to the EU foreign ministers Wednesday to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

United Nations torture investigator Manfred Nowak had recommended last month that European countries take in Guantánamo inmates who cannot be sent home.

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