1st Dec 2021

MEPs back UN call for Guantanamo camp closure

The European Parliament on Thursday (16 February) backed a UN report calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp operated by the US in Cuba.

In a resolution passed at a February session in Strasbourg, a majority of MEPs also demanded that prisoners held in the camp be treated in conformity with international law. The resolution was passed with 80 votes in favour, one against and one abstention.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Guantanamo is a scandal. The founding fathers of the United States must be turning in their graves at the constitutional outrage whereby America practises illegal detention, ill-treatment and even torture," said UK liberal MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford.

In the UN report published on Wednesday (15 February) UN experts also said the camp should be closed "without further delay."

"The United States Government should either expeditiously bring all Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial or release them without further delay," the report recommended.

The report also called for an end to "special interrogation techniques" and to stop sending detainees to countries "where there are substantial grounds for believing they would be in danger of being tortured" - the so-called practice of rendition.

Approximately 520 people are being held at the Guantanamo base. Most were captured in Afghanistan after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States. But so far only a handful of detainees have been tried.

The US immediately dismissed the findings of the report.

"I think what we are seeing is a rehash of allegations that have been made by lawyers representing some of the detainees," Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

"We know that al-Qaeda detainees are trained in trying to disseminate false allegations."

UN secretary general Kofi Annan himself did not fully endorse the findings of the report, saying it was crucial to strike a balance.

"There's a lot in the report, and I cannot say that I necessarily agree with everything," Mr Annan indicated, adding "sooner or later there will be a need to close Guantanamo, and I think it will be up to the government to decide and hopefully to do it as soon as possible."

The 54-page study was compiled by five independent scientists, lawyers and academics over the last 18 months and is largely based on interviews with former detainees and publicised information.

The investigators turned down an invitation to go to Guantanamo Bay when the US said they would not be permitted to talk to individual detainees.

The report will be presented to the UN Commission of Human Rights at its next session in Geneva on 13 March.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

LGBTI fears over new Polish member at EU institution

A letter sent to the European Economic and Social Committee by a group of cross-party MEPs fighting for LGBTi rights expresses fears that a recently-appointed Polish member may try to undermine those rights.

EU condemns Slovenian PM's harassment of journalist

Slovenia's populist prime minister Janez Janša attempted to discredit a Brussels reporter after she published a critical article about the state of media freedoms in the country. The European Commission condemned the PM's language - but refrained from naming him.

News in Brief

  1. Poland curtails media access to Belarus border
  2. Report: Germany's Scholz 'backs compulsory Covid jabs'
  3. Omicron 'present in Europe at least 10 days ago'
  4. German court finds ex-Islamic State member guilty of genocide
  5. Report: Shell is considering return to Libya
  6. Report: EU to reveal €300bn infrastructure plan
  7. Barbados becomes world's newest republic
  8. Far-right Zemmour will run for French presidency


Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. No obligation to defend Ukraine from Russia, Nato chief says
  2. EU agency: 'Omicron vaccine' approval to take 3-4 months
  3. Ombudsman launches probe into Commission tobacco lobbying
  4. Lead MEP wants 'mandatory relocation' in EU asylum law
  5. The EU's 'global gateway' - an answer to China, or a dead-end?
  6. Osman Kavala in a Turkish jail - taking injustice personally
  7. Frontex implicated 'to some extent' in violations, says officer
  8. Omicron shows need for pandemic global pact, WHO says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us