Refugee status urged for detainees


IRELAND SHOULD follow Portugal's lead in agreeing to grant refugee status to exonerated Guantánamo detainees who cannot return home due to the risk of torture or other mistreatment, Amnesty International has said.

Amnesty's Irish section was responding to Portuguese foreign minister Luis Amado's commitment to accept for resettlement Guantánamo inmates cleared for release. Mr Amado outlined the move in a letter to his EU counterparts to mark this week's 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Referring to US president-elect Barack Obama's stated wish to close the detention centre, Mr Amado argued that the EU should "send a clear signal of our willingness to help the US government resolve this problem" by granting asylum to exonerated detainees who fear persecution if returned to their countries of origin.

Amnesty's Irish section has been lobbying the Government to take in at least one detainee - Uzbek national Oybek Jamoldinivich Jabbarov. Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, however, has said the Government is not contemplating the resettlement of any Guantánamo inmates.

Welcoming Portugal's decision, Colm O'Gorman, director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: "Ireland should follow Portugal's lead and be part of the solution to end the human rights scandal of Guantánamo.

"The Irish Government has committed to lobbying the new US administration to ensure the closure of Guantánamo Bay. It cannot close if these innocent men have nowhere to go. It would be absolutely illogical for Ireland to refuse to offer resettlement."