Colombia confirmed Thursday that the United States has requested that its South American ally receive inmates from the US-run Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.
Uruguay and Brazil were also asked to take on “Gitmo” detainees being held under suspicions — but not, it should be noted, charges — related to terrorism.
“The government has listened to this request carefully from the United States,” said Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, who said a full study of the matter by the Foreign Ministry will precede any formal decision.
Earlier this week, Uruguay agreed to take in five prisoners from the detention camp as refugees.
US President Barack Obama committed to closing Guantanamo Bay during his first presidential campaign in 2008. Now, well into his second term in office, the extrajudicial prison remains open, housing some 154 terrorism suspects.
Guantanamo Bay, which had long served as a base for the US military, began holding prisoners following the September 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. It soon became the destination for individuals, deemed “enemy combatants,” captured as part of the United States’ so-called global War on Terror.
The prison has since become a target of intense international and domestic scrutiny, as inmates are held without formal rights to due process and subjected to conditions that violate human rights law.
Colombia and the United States are strong military allies. An extradition policy that sends Colombian prisoners charged with crimes related to drug trafficking to the United States has been in place between the two countries for some time now, but whether Colombia will be able to accept Guantanamo inmates likely depends on its ability to guarantee the security of its struggling prison system.
Colombian jails have become dramatically overcrowded, leading authorities to approve an early release program for low-level offenders. Corruption within the prison security system, meanwhile, allows captured leaders to run criminal organizations from their cell blocks.
- Gobierno confirma solicitud de EE.UU. para acoger presos de Guantánamo (Caracol Radio)
- Colombia asked to take in Guantanamo detainees (AFP)
- Colombia may take Guantanamo detainees (Associated Press)