Fresh calls to accept Guantanamo detainees

Fresh calls were made today for Taoiseach Brian Cowen to deliver on his commitment to accept Guantanamo detainees cleared for release.

Fresh calls were made today for Taoiseach Brian Cowen to deliver on his commitment to accept Guantanamo detainees cleared for release.

Amnesty International Ireland said the Government must follow the French lead and welcome some of those who could not return to their homes because of the risk of imprisonment and torture.

Noeleen Hartigan, the organisation’s Irish programmes director, said the French government had taken a step to help consign the detention facility to history by accepting detainee Lakhdar Boumediene.

The 43-year-old Algerian was arrested with five compatriots in Bosnia.

“Lakhdar Boumediene has been held at the US detention centre in Cuba without charge or trial since January 2002 and arrived in France yesterday,” she said.

“Other governments, including Ireland, should follow France’s commendable lead.

“They should offer protection to those men at Guantanamo who will not be charged but have nowhere to go.”

Ms Hartigan said approximately 60 detainees had been cleared for release but could not be returned to their home countries because of the risks of serious human rights violation.

“In March, while in the US for St Patrick’s Day, the Taoiseach said Ireland would accept some of these detainees who have been cleared for release,” continued Ms Hartigan.

“He has since confirmed this commitment in the Dail.

“We welcomed this as an act of moral leadership and have already been working with civil servants to see how best this promise can be delivered.”

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