The Netherlands Considers Accepting Guantanamo Detainees
The Netherlands is reportedly considering a request from the United States to take in two Guantanamo Bay detainees. They would be the first people transferred from Guantanamo since January 14th, when Oman and Estonia accepted five Yemenis.
The prison at Guantanamo Bay currently holds 122 prisoners, 56 of whom have been cleared for transfer by all relevant government agencies. Many were cleared by multiple administrations.
If the Netherlands takes in these two men, it would be a significant humanitarian act. Fifty-five countries have accepted Guantanamo detainees, including the Netherlands’ neighbors Germany and Belgium. In January, Pope Francis thanked the countries that have accepted detainees and praised “the intention of the United States to close the Guantanamo detention facilities.”
President Obama recently renewed his pledge to close the prison by telling a group of seventh graders that he should have closed it on the first day he was in office. His administration has transferred 116 detainees out of Guantanamo thus far. But it could be doing more to speed along the prison’s closure.
Obama established the Periodic Review Board (PRB) process to determine if detainees slated for indefinite detention or prosecution should be released or if they pose a continuing threat to the United States. The PRB process aimed to assess all detainees by March 2012, but to date has reviewed only 13. Fifty-one are still eligible for review, and at the current pace, they won’t be done until 2020. This timetable threatens the president’s goal of closing the prison before leaving office.
All of the 56 detainees already cleared for release have been at the prison for more than 12 years without charge or trial. The administration should also ramp up efforts to find countries to accept them.
While closing Guantanamo often seems like a difficult task, there are concrete steps that the Obama Administration can take today to make it happen, as detailed in our blueprint. Ramping up PRB reviews and transfers is a good place to start.