Thursday, June 4, 2009

An European perspective on Guantanamo

ECFR Press Release

The Justice and Home Affairs Council is meeting today and Friday to discuss Europe's action on resettling Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Anthony Dworkin, Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and author of ECFR's recent policy brief, Beyond the "War on Terror": Towards a new transatlantic framework for counterterrorism, says:

"President Obama has promised to close Guantanamo, and Europe applauds him. But so far the EU has been slow to offer support. Europe has a huge interest in rebuilding a counterterrorism partnership with the US based on the rule of law, but it cannot expect to have influence in Washington if it is not prepared to help resettle Guantanamo Bay detainees.

It now seems likely that the European Union will agree a framework this week that makes a very positive start - it is the initial, necessary step towards Europe working with the US in closing Guantanamo.

The EU ought to endorse this framework. Member states must then urgently agree with the US how many and which detainees they are willing to take. As part of the deal, the US should be willing to admit some detainees itself."

Dworkin calls for:

1. The EU must endorse a joint framework for resettling detainees that includes a supporting statement that member states consider accepting some former prisoners, as well as providing an information sharing protocol - which will help allay concerns over freedom of movement in the Schengen area. Giving the stance Obama is taking and the hurdles he is facing in closing Guantanamo, such a statement will contribute to improved US-EU relations.
There are 50 detainees whom the United States is willing to release if a country can be found to take them. Since Obama became president, the UK has accepted a former resident and France has taken a non-citizen with family members in France. Several other EU countries-including Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania and Belgium-have said they will consider doing so.

2. Member states must move quickly to reach agreement with the US on a specific number of prisoners they are willing to take as Obama works to follow through on his promise to accept some detainees in the US.

For press interviews and comment, Anthony Dworkin can be reached at: or on +44 7879 636701.
For all other press enquiries, please email or call +44 (0)207 031 1623.

For more information, please click here for ECFR's latest policy brief on counterterrorism.

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