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 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 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 on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC on September 11, 2001.
The prison has since become a target of international and domestic scrutiny over possible violations of human right 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, 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)