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Portugal to take in two Syrian prisoners

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-07

Portugal will accept two Syrian nationals for resettlement from the US detention camp of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the foreign ministry has said. US President Barack Obama has pledged to close the prison by the end of the year.

REUTERS - Portugal will accept two Syrian nationals for resettlement from the U.S. detention camp of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on a special visa, the foreign ministry said on Friday, lauding the forthcoming closure of the camp.


Their names were not revealed. The ministry said the prisoners are part of a group of several dozen detainees who had been cleared of terrorism charges, but cannot be returned to their countries due to the risk of persecution.


In December, Portugal became the first country to press publicly for a coordinated European Union resettlement plan for Guantanamo prisoners, which was followed by an EU decision in June to take in detainees on a case-by-case basis.


The foreign ministry said in a statement the government had weighed various aspects—“humanitarian, foreign relations, safeguarding security and the prospects of successful integration of the chosen ex-detainees” before taking the final decision to accept the two.


The special temporary visas to be issued imply either state interests or humanitarian reasons, according to the law.


It praised the closure of the Gunatanamo detention centre as allowing “the revival of the Transatlantic relationship and a victory for all those who defend and promote the respect for human rights within the framework of the war on terror”.


The facility at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo, which opened after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, quickly became a symbol of detainee abuse and detention without charge under the previous administration of George W. Bush.


President Barack Obama has pledged to close the prison by the end of the year, and the inmates either have to face trial or be released. Washington faces opposition to transferring detainees to the United States, be it for trial or release.
 

Date created : 2009-08-07

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