Sweden Should Receive Guantánamo Prisoners

In an article in the evening newspaper, Aftonbladet, Swedish Helsinki Committee urges Sweden to offer asylum to Guantanamo prisoners. On the 11th December, Portugal’s foreign minister said that his country was ready to receive Guantanamo prisoners who cannot return to their own countries, and urged other countries to do likewise.

Aftonbladet debatt 17 december 2008: Sweden Should Receive Guantanamo Prisoners

Last Thursday (December 11th), Portugal’s foreign minister Luis Amado said that his country was ready to receive Guantanamo prisoners who cannot return to their own countries where they risk being tortured or having their human rights abused in some other way. He urged other EU countries to do the same.

Swedish Helsinki Committee urges the Swedish government to follow the good example set by the Portuguese government.

There are about 50 people from, among other places, Algeria, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, who risk persecution and torture if they are forced to return home. They have spent years at the Guantanamo base in horrendous conditions and with a total lack of rights. The US has at last been forced to admit that there are no grounds for keeping them imprisoned and that they must now be set free.

The problem is that they have nowhere to go. Neither the US not their allies are prepared to take responsibility. Thus, these people must go on living in a state of uncertainty with no control whatsoever over their situation.

By its actions, Portugal is taking a risk. Russia and China are big trading partners who do not hesitate to use economic sanctions to get their own way or show their disapproval. Not least because of this, the Portuguese decision deserves all respect. Other EU countries, Sweden included, must now show their solidarity.

Sweden often points out how important it is that states respect people’s rights in general and especially their legal rights. We now have a chance to demonstrate this by our actions and we urge the government and Luis Amado’s Swedish colleague, foreign minister Carl Bildt, to join forces with Portugal: stand up for human rights and declare that Sweden is ready to receive those Guantanamo prisoners who cannot return home.

Robert Hårdh
Secretary General of Swedish Helsinki Committee

Categories: Opinion.
Tags: Asylumn seekers and Guantanamo.
Regions: Sweden.