Six European Union member states have agreed to accept detainees from the notorious US facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to a report in the Washington Post on Thursday (20 August).
The paper lists Britain, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain as having accepted or publicly agreed to take in inmates, quoting unnamed officials in US president Barack Obama´s administration. This website has previously reported that Belgium, but not Italy had made similar commitments.
Beyond these six, four EU countries have told the White House in private that they will resettle people currently held at the prison. A further five EU members are still thinking about the matter.
The Guantanamo camp was established by the then president George W. Bush in 2002 to house "war on terror" detainees. Since then, over 540 prisoners have been transferred from Guantanamo to at least 30 countries. Two hundred and twenty nine inmates still remain however, with president Obama having vowed to shut the facility by January 2010.
Around 80 of the detainees have already been cleared for release, but US officials are having difficulty finding countries that will take them in, and meeting resistance from a Congress unwilling to allow them to be housed on US soil.
Of these, there are about 50 inmates from Algeria, China, Libya, the occupied Palestinian territories, Russia, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia and Uzbekistan who cannot go home for fear of ill-treatment there.
The Washington Post also reports that Bermuda and Palau in the Pacific have agreed to take in prisoners and that the US has held "positive talks" on the matter with Australia and Georgia.
According to the same officials, Washington has formally requested or has plans to begin negotiations on the housing of former Guantanamo prisoners with unspecified Balkan countries, states in the Persian Gulf, in South America and in the former Soviet Union.
Eleven detainees have already been sent home or to Bermuda, which took in four Chinese Uighurs.
Palau is to take in 13 other Uighur prisoners.