Saturday

10th Dec 2016

Portugal urges EU to shelter Guantanamo prisoners

Portugal has stepped to the forefront of efforts to grant asylum to people who were imprisoned at the US military base in Guantanamo, Cuba, but once freed, fear returning to authoritarian government hands in such countries as Algeria or Sudan.

"The time has come for the European Union to step forward," Portuguese foreign minister Luis Amado said in a letter to the 27 EU governments released on Thursday (11 December).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Albania has been the only country in the world willing to accept a handful of detainees - in total eight men from China, Uzbekistan, Algeria and Egypt (Photo: Wikipedia)

He added: "As a matter of principle and coherence, we should send a clear signal of our willingness to help the US government in this regard, namely through the resettlement of detainees."

The Portuguese government "will be available to participate," the minister concluded.

The Guantanamo prison - holding individuals the US has termed "enemy combatants" from around the world since 2002 - has been widely denounced by jurists and civil liberties advocates as for its extra-legal character and reported human rights abuses.

US president-elect Barack Obama is expected to move swiftly to close the controversial site after he is sworn in as president.

Some 250 individuals are still held at the Guantanamo base. Around 40 of them are believed to face the potential threat of persecution and torture should they be returned to their home countries, nations where human rights abuses are common, such as Algeria, China, Libya, and Uzbekistan.

The Portuguese move has received a warm welcome from both the United States and human rights activists.

Washington described Portugal's call on the EU to house the individuals as "highly significant" and "a quite open challenge to the rest of Europe."

Human Rights Watch has called on other EU capitals to heed Lisbon's call.

"For years, the US has been unable to convince its European allies to accept Guantanamo detainees who cannot be sent back home. For the first time an EU government is publicly pushing to make that happen and others should echo Portugal's call," said Jennifer Daskal, a campaigner with the New York-based organisation.

Children's rights at risk in EU hotspots

Lack of lawyers and other staff has caused logjams on asylum claims, which particularly hurt children, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency told MEPs.

News in Brief

  1. Council of Europe critical of Turkey emergency laws
  2. Italian opposition presses for anti-euro referendum
  3. Danish MP wants warning shots fired to deter migrants
  4. Defected Turkish officers to remain in Greece
  5. Most child asylum seekers are adults, says Denmark
  6. No school for children of 'illegal' migrants, says Le Pen
  7. Ombudsman slams EU Commission on tobacco lobbying
  8. McDonald's moves fiscal HQ to UK following tax probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Use Bioenergy Coming From Forests in a Sustainable Way?
  2. Counter BalanceReport Reveals Corrupt but Legal Practices in Development Finance
  3. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  4. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  5. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  6. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  7. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  9. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  10. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  11. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  12. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First