Colombia will not accept the request from United States to receive a group of prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, President Juan Manuel Santos said Monday.
“The [Foreign] Minister Maria Angela Holguin once mentioned the issue but to receive Guantanamo prisoners is difficult at this time,” he told radio station Blu.
Colombia is currently trying to improve human rights situation in prisons of which some had to close their doors due to overcrowding.
Santos said he did not rule out the possibility of considering a request from U.S. to receive prisoners from Guantanamo in the future.
U.S. President Barack Obama committed to closing Guantanamo Bay during his first presidential campaign in 2008. Six years later and well into his second term, the prison remains open, housing some 154 terrorism suspects.
Guantanamo Bay, a US naval base-turned detention camp in Cuba, began holding prisoners following terror attacks in New York City and in Washington on September 11, 2001.
The prison has since become a target of international and domestic investigation over possible violations of human rights and international laws.
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 since the late 1990s.
Colombian jails have become dramatically overcrowded, leading authorities to approve an early release program for low-level offenders.
Holguin confirmed in March that the US had approached Colombia with a request to accept Guantanamo prisoners.
“We have seen approaches to other countries in the region, I think in general terms with all countries in the world because they need a way to find a place for Guantanamo detainees to continue a life,” the minister then said.
Uruguay’s president Jose Mujica announced on Thursday that his country was willing to accept six prisoners from the U.S. prison.
- Colombia no aceptó solicitud de EE.UU. de recibir presos de Guantánamo (El Espectador)
- EE.UU. solicitó a Colombia que acoja presos de Guantánamo (El Espectador)