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EU: Push U.S. To Close Guantanamo

EU: Push U.S. To Close Guantanamo

(Brussels) – European governments should take concrete steps to help close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter sent to EU foreign ministers.

In the letter, Human Rights Watch commends the European Union for its collective call to close Guantanamo Bay, but warns that the process of closing the detention center there will not be easy. Currently, there are several detainees – including 11 Chinese Uighurs – who have been cleared for release but cannot be returned to their home country because they would suffer torture and abuse. If the EU were to assist in efforts to resettle some of these men, it would be taking an important and highly valued step toward helping make the goal of closing Guantanamo a reality, said Human Rights Watch.

“EU leaders can go beyond words to action – and take a humane and practical step to right a terrible wrong,” said Lotte Leicht, EU advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “If the EU helps to resettle some Guantanamo detainees, it will be applauded by all.”

But Human Rights Watch also urged the European Union to look beyond Guantanamo. The United States should be pushed to provide immediate access for the International Committee of the Red Cross to the approximately three dozen detainees being held in secret prisons; to prosecute all military and civilians responsible for detainee abuse, including those up the chain of command; and to affirm its unwavering commitment to apply the Geneva Conventions, without any watering down, to all detainees in both U.S. military and CIA custody.

Human Rights Watch sent the letter to all foreign ministers scheduled to attend the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting on July 17, 2006.

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