Dutch not open yet to US request on Guantanamo inmates

14th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

The Netherlands will only consider a US request to take in two detainees from Guantanamo Bay once Washington has taken "meaningful steps" to close the notorious military jail, the Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said Monday.

The Netherlands has always maintained that the prison, built on a US military base in southern Cuba was "contrary to international law" and has called for it to "be closed as quickly as possible," Koenders told MPs.

Confirming that the administration of US President Barack Obama has asked the Netherlands to take "one to two detainees," Koenders wrote to the Senate that the Dutch government was not currently mulling the request.

"Only after the US government has taken further meaningful steps towards closing" Guantanamo will the Dutch government "consider this request," he wrote in reply to questions from the parliament's upper chamber.

Currently, 116 inmates remain at the 13-year-old prison, opened by the previous administration of president George W. Bush to house those rounded up in the "war on terror" launched in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

It has drawn international condemnation for its treatment of prisoners, and been denounced as serving as a recruitment and propaganda tool for extremists.

Just under half of the remaining detainees have been cleared to leave, but have yet to be resettled or repatriated.

Since Obama came to power in January 2009 vowing to close down the jail, Washington has slowly been sending Guantanamo prisoners back to their home countries or to third countries.

But most of those now cleared for release are from Yemen, which is mired in a civil war.

As a candidate and as US president, Obama repeatedly promised to shut down the Guantanamo prison, and one of his first actions once elected was to order its closure.

But he quickly became ensnared in legal and political wrangling over what to do with the inmates.

© 2015 AFP

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