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EU fails to agree on who will host Guantánamo prisoners

By Matthew ClarkStaff Writer / January 26, 2009

Criticize? Mais, oui! Help? Ehh ... peut-être.

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After spending the past few years lambasting the Bush administration for holding suspected terrorists at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility in Cuba without charge or trial, European leaders now find themselves in a quandary.

Now that President Obama has ordered Gitmo shut down, he needs allied countries to volunteer to host the former detainees.

Trouble is, few European countries have made concrete offers to help.

European Union (EU) member states met today on the issue, but (surprise!) failed to come up with a joint plan of action.

Der Spiegel reported that France had floated a proposal that EU countries offer homes to about 60 inmates who were deemed innocent but would risk persecution or torture if sent to their home countries.

'It's a legal thing'

Karel Schwarzenberg, foreign minister from the Czech Republic, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, cited legal reasons as the main impediment to coming up with a joint statement, reports Bloomberg.

“We can’t give a quick answer,” Schwarzenberg told reporters after the meeting.
European leaders have had contrasting positions about what they’re ready to offer. Portugal, France, and non-EU member Switzerland have said they’ll consider taking prisoners on a case-by-case basis, while Italy is open to the idea but wants a common EU position. ...
Germany hasn’t decided whether to take prisoners, while the Dutch government has refused on the grounds that the U.S. should handle the situation. The U.K., which has accepted six of its nationals and four residents since 2004, will “offer our experience” to EU allies, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.

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