There is little support in the Lower House for the plea made by Leiden professors and senators Nico Schrijver (PvdA) and Hans Franken (CDA), urging the Netherlands to take in prisoners from Guantánamo Bay. “Many politicians agree with us but they’re afraid to say so.”
(Het originele Nederlandse artikel staat hier)
“Guantánamo Bay is a stain on the administration of justice in the free world. It’s utterly absurd that it happened and is still happening”, says Nico Schrijver, a senator for PvdA and a professor of International Law. He and Hans Franken, a senator for CDA and a professor of Information Law, writing in NRC Handelsblad, have called for the Netherlands to take in two inmates of Guantánamo Bay.
“People have been imprisoned there for over twelve years and some of them haven’t even been heard. Others never received a fair and decent trial: suspects appear before a military tribunal instead of a civil court – that’s just not right.”
But why should the Netherlands clear up America’s mess? “On his first day in office, President Obama promised to close down Guantánamo Bay – that was in 2008. But he bit off more than he could chew and the Netherlands, along with other nations, should assume the responsibility.
“It would help restore and reinforce international law. Human rights are being violated and the Netherlands can help put an end to it. America is an ally and that means we should help one another sometimes. Germany, Belgium and Denmark are all taking in prisoners. We need to resolve this issue together. We’ve been asked to take in two people and give them a provisional residence permit.”
There is little support in the Lower House for the request but Schrijver won’t allow that to deter him. “It’s our duty as senators to look beyond passing fads. We wanted to stir things up and broach a topic that goes beyond the boundaries of the politics. That’s why I’m glad I was joined by Hans Franken: the parties are so scared of what their electorate will do, especially because of Wilders. VVD recently introduced a memorandum to keep all non-European migrants out. The atmosphere in the Lower House is not conducive to saying yes to President Obama’s request.”
According to Schrijver, plenty of politicians agree with the Leiden senators – off the record. “A lot of people have told us ‘Good on you for sticking your necks out’ – and there are liberals among them too. I could easily name five VVD senators who agree with us, but it wouldn’t be right. We’ve had support from colleagues in the Lower House too, but the party spokesmen shy away from the issue.”
Schrijver doesn’t expect many risks to be involved in taking in the prisoners. “After all, they’re not terrorists. They’ll be happy to be free at last. They’re innocent people who have nothing to do with terrorism, or they’re detainees against whom insufficient evidence has been found, even after twelve years.”
Nonetheless, in Schrijver’s opinion, America should do something in exchange for taking care of the prisoners: “America should make a commitment to uphold international law. No more military tribunes and no more Guantánamo Bay.”
Now it is up to the government to suggest something. “Foreign Affairs Minister Koenders should discuss it thoroughly with the Minister of Justice, Van der Steur, but not in secret. There should be a debate in the Lower House, even though, in the end, the government must make the decision.”