Switzerland Offers to Consider Taking Gitmo Detainees

The Government of Switzerland made a generous offer today -- it is willing to consider taking Guantanamo detainees who cannot return to their home countries:

"For Switzerland, the detention of people in Guantanamo is in conflict with international law. Switzerland is ready to consider how it can contribute to the solution of the Guantanamo problem," the government said in a statement.

Switzerland said it welcomed the expressed intention of U.S. President Barack Obama to close the prison and would investigate security and legal implications of possibly taking in detainees.

Portugal and France have also expressed a willingness to consider taking detainees. [More...]

245 detainees remain at Guantanamo. You can read their names and countries of origin in the appendix to the ACLU plan (pdf) to close Guantanamo.

Obama's direction to prosecutors to seek a suspension of the military commissions trials which was granted by the judge also met with approval from the European Commission. EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot released a statement:

"I am delighted that one of the first actions of President Obama was to turn the page on this sad episode of Guantanamo prison...."For me, this is very symbolic. In a lawful state, everybody should enjoy the right to defence."

< In Our Names | Obama Circulates Draft Order Allowing a Year to Close Gitmo >
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    Wow! (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by gentlyweepingguitar on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:16:13 PM EST
    This is bringing me close to tears. Wow! Can it work?

    Also (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by squeaky on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:22:45 PM EST
    Great Britian offered to take 150 more.

    Clive Stafford Smith, who represented British Guantánamo detainees through the legal charity Reprieve, said that Britain was "taking a lead" among other European countries who had signalled their willingness to take some of the 150 inmates deemed not to pose a threat.


    It's looking to be (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by CoralGables on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:40:07 PM EST
    a very successful first day in laying the groundwork for fixing some of the flaws from the last eight years.

    amazing (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by OldCity on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:40:45 PM EST
    when one considers the relative difficulty involved in long term residence in Switzerland or becoming a naturalized citizen of that country.

    I don't know about the legalities involved... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by vml68 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:04:23 PM EST
    but why isn't the US taking these people in and offering them compensation for what they have had to deal with (not that money can ever compensate for the wrongs they have endured).

    Because there's not enough political capital (none / 0) (#13)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:03:04 PM EST
    in the world for Obama to even contemplate that. Probably at least a third of the U.S. populace will never believe these people aren't guilty of something.

    Alot of them are (none / 0) (#17)
    by Slado on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:57:08 PM EST
    guilty of something.  

    Living while Muslim? (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 03:49:32 PM EST
    Well heck... (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by sj on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 04:16:05 PM EST
    ... we're all guilty of something.  To be sure, some infractions are more serious than others.  But "nation of laws", folks.  Prove it officially before punishing.  Not after.

    That took less than 24 hours. (none / 0) (#3)
    by JSN on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:31:14 PM EST

    An offer to consider. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:33:36 PM EST

    That is a no cost way to suck up to a new administration.  The consideration process could go on for quite a while.  Lets not start cheering until they actually offer to take some on terms that BHO finds acceptable.  

    What might these terms be? (none / 0) (#7)
    by pmj6 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:42:25 PM EST
    Obama should see it for what it is: a way out of a difficult predicament. The Europeans are doing him a huge favor by offering to take that hot potato out of his hands.

    Hot spud (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:38:19 PM EST

    Europeans are doing him a huge favor by offering to take that hot potato out of his hands.

    The Swiss are not offering to take so much as a single person.  They are generously offering to think about doing so.  Some day.  Maybe.


    Post of the (none / 0) (#11)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:59:17 PM EST
    Day nomination.  

    Agree (none / 0) (#8)
    by koshembos on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:51:57 PM EST
    Abdul is right, before popping the campaign, let's wait and see Gitmo disappear. There are certainly obstacles on the way to happy ending.

    Even if it's just an offer, (none / 0) (#12)
    by snstara on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:59:47 PM EST
    It's a start.  

    I was glad to see Guantanamo addressed, and glad to see the EU response.  The logistics will be far more burdensome than these niceties.

    I should also point out (none / 0) (#14)
    by OldCity on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:28:16 PM EST
    that Europe can kiss our collective ass when it comes to the protection of human rights.  That is, assuming we are talking about the same Western European countries that systematically persecuted the Jews for centuries, colonized and partitioned Africa (facilitating the worldwide slavery trade), still discriminate against their own citizens of color (have some fun, watcha soccer game in Italy when a blck guy gets on the pitch), and cheerfully stood by during the ethnic cleansing debacle in the Balkans, just to name a few examples...

    Like it or not, people leave Europe to come HERE, not the opposite.  This place is still the benchmark.  Switzerland can talk to me when they give back the monies and the artworks etc that they appropriated before and during WWII.

    Europe (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by CST on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:49:25 PM EST
    Has a similar history to us with regards to the protection of human rights.  They were no worse to the Jews than we were to the Native Americans, it was just more recent.  They certainly have had their issues, but so have we.  Who do you think bought the slaves?

    Like it or not, historically a lot of African Americans have left the United States for places like France and England that they considered more "open".

    I am not saying Europe is perfect by any means, frankly I do think they are far behind on racial relations today (I have seen those soccer games, if you think Italy is bad, try Spain), but if they are willing to help us out of a pickle with Gitmo, I'm not gonna be the one to say no.


    the worldwide slavery trade (none / 0) (#16)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:52:12 PM EST

    The worldwide slavery trade predates the European nations.  Slavery and the trade in slaves has existed since before recorded history.  

    BTW. the Slavic countries got that name because at one point in history thats where the bulk of the slaves came from.

    The one thing stands out as unique is the UK putting an end to the slave trade that had existed universally for millenia.  Its kind of ironic that the Romans used to complain about the poor mental quality of slaves from Britain.


    While that's true: (none / 0) (#18)
    by OldCity on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 03:27:41 PM EST
    Liverpool, prior to the law of 1807 was a HUGE trading port for slaves. We could also talk about the French in Haiti or the Dutch or the Portugese or the Belgians...the Swiss were aware of German activities during WWII but maintained their "neutrality".  

    C'mon, the US history has no moral equivalent with European history when iit comes to human rights...our country's not old enough, and yet we made peace with our aborigines (vis' say, Australia?) and ended slavery within 100 years of our founding.

    The British still held Irish without trial or charge in the 1970's...I mean, let's face it, th US has a far finer history than any European country when it comes to the rights of the individual...for us to be told that WE are war criminals by a country that will not confer citizenship to refugees is a joke.  I'll not endorse any of the actions of the Bush administration reqarding treatment of prisoners, but I will say that it's crazy to think that that any Eurpoean country holds the high ground over us.  

    There are bad people in Guantanamo, make no mistake.  Many should not get a pass, or re-located solely because the last administration fscked things up.  Try 'em.  It needs to happen.  We don't want to treat innocent outliers as the rule...      


    So? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 01:42:22 PM EST

    Liverpool, prior to the law of 1807 was a HUGE trading port for slaves. We could also talk about the French in Haiti or the Dutch or the Portugese or the Belgians...

    Liverpool was a huge port for trading everything.  Nations with lots of merchant ships traded everything, slaves, tea, corn, tobacco, hides, rum, etc.  Austria had little to do with the slave trade as there were no ports.

    If you want to look root of the 18th century slave trade, take a look at those doing the origional capturing and selling.


    Since we can no longer (none / 0) (#21)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:31:56 PM EST
    provide safe haven for poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free perhaps we ought to send the statue back with them.  I've been a part of the big fat losers club before in my lifetime and, well, just tally this one up too.