EU welcomes Obama's suspension of Guantanamo prosecutions

Other News Materials 21 January 2009 19:53 (UTC +04:00)

The European Union's top justice official Wednesday welcomed US President Barack Obama's decision to temporarily suspend prosecutions at the US's controversial Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba, dpa reported.

"I am extremely pleased that one of the first actions of President Obama has been to turn the page on this sad episode of the Guantanamo prison," said EU Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner Jacques Barrot.

The commissioner, who also acts as one of the vice-presidents of the EU's executive arm in Brussels, said that in a country which seeks to uphold the rule of law, every defendant should be entitled to the right to defend themselves.

"Of course, the fight against terrorism must remain a priority for both the United States and Europe. We must be united in this fight, but always in full respect of human rights," Barrot said.

EU member states are currently split as to whether to host any released prisoners.

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble argues that since the United States is solely responsible for the fate of any released detainees, he does not see why any EU country should provide them with sanctuary.

But Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos has already said his country would be willing to "assume its responsibility" within the international judicial framework and help Obama close the prison.

Spain would, however, first want to be informed in detail about the legal situation of each of the Guantanamo inmates, Moratinos told Spain's Punto Radio.

Commissioner Barrot said he planned to raise the issue of Guantanamo with Obama during a forthcoming visit to Washington. No date for the visit has yet been set, his spokesman said.