Czech Republic not to accept Guantanamo detainees, says interior minister

Guantanamo, photo: CTK

The Czech Republic will not accept any former inmates from the Guantanamo Bay military prison camp, Interior Minister Ivan Langer said on Monday in response to a US appeal for EU member states to do so. Mr Langer said that the Czech Republic was not currently equipped to take in any of the camp’s former detainees but that, as the current head of the European Union, it would try to negotiate a common European solution to the problem. Earlier today, I spoke to Markéta Matlochová from the Czech Interior Ministry, who said that the matter was under consultation:

“The Czech presidency wants to secure a coordinated position which would respect the national powers of the member countries and would reflect the fact that these countries share the Schengen area without borders, where countries bear responsibility not only for themselves. So, the decision to accept detainees would be taken on a case-by-case basis, made by the receiving member state. And this member state would assess the risk of receiving a particular detainee independently from the United States.”

Will it not be difficult for either Mr Langer or whoever takes over from Mr Langer in the weeks to come to negotiate potentially some European countries accepting a prisoner from Guantanamo Bay when the Czech Republic has already said ‘we definitely won’t’?

“It depends on each member state. If any member state wants to accept an inmate from Guantanamo Bay, it depends upon them. Mr Langer has said that right now the Czech Republic is not considering accepting any.”

On Monday, Mr Langer said that the Czech Republic does not have the infrastructure to accept a prisoner from Guantanamo prison. What is the Czech Republic lacking?

“Well, we need to think about the legal conditions and the conditions of integration carefully before considering taking in a detainee. And all of these conditions have to be perfectly considered.”

Guantanamo,  photo: CTK
Which legal conditions are you talking about?

“These are the conditions under which the prisoner could live in each member state, the legal conditions of this, and the conditions in which they would integrate, need to be considered perfectly.”

Due to the fact that the Czech Republic is now a member of the EU’s border-free Schengen zone, is it not therefore likely that if a country like Germany accepted someone from the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp, then that person could end up living in the Czech Republic?

“We cannot exclude this possibility 100 percent, but, as a result of Schengen rules, a decision to accept a former detainee by one member state would be relevant to other member states, and so therefore consultation and information sharing amongst the Schengen states is needed.”