The Netherlands supports swift closure of Guantánamo

During the 13 November debate on the foreign ministry budget in the House of Representatives, Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen stated that the Netherlands will actively support the US in shutting down the American detention centre at Guantánamo Bay.

‘I hope the closure of the facility will be one of the first actions taken by the Obama administration,’ said Mr Verhagen. This would be a sign of American moral leadership in the minister’s view. ‘Leadership also means: setting a good example. Human rights mean nothing to terrorists, but they mean a great deal to us.’

Together with Minister of Justice Ernst Hirsch Ballin, Mr Verhagen is looking into what role the Netherlands could play to ensure that international terrorist suspects are given a fair trial. Defendants could, for example, be brought before the International Criminal Court, if their alleged offences are serious enough to qualify as crimes against humanity.

‘I would like to see the masterminds of international terrorism brought to justice,’ Mr Verhagen emphasised. ‘There can be no safe haven for terrorists.’

Since 2002 a special prison has been in operation at the American naval base at Guantánamo Bay for individuals suspected of participating in terrorist groups like Al Qaida and the Taliban. The prison currently houses 250 inmates with no right to trial.