Page last updated at 13:22 GMT, Friday, 20 March 2009

NI 'should take Guantanamo freed'

detainee at Camp X-Ray
About 60 detainees are ready for release but with nowhere to go

Northern Ireland should offer to take some prisoners freed from Guantanamo Bay by US president Barack Obama, Amnesty International has said.

Amnesty called on First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to offer to help.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty NI director, said Ireland had already agreed to take a small number of freed prisoners.

"Northern Ireland is accustomed to asking the US for assistance with our political problems," Mr Corrigan said.

"The first and deputy first minister should now assist President Obama in his moves to close the camp by offering humanitarian protection to vulnerable prisoners who need a place to go."

He pointed to the considerable experience Northern Ireland had with prisoner release and reintegration following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

Some 60 men are said to be at risk of torture or persecution if returned to their home countries.

Mr Corrigan said Northern Ireland would be following the lead of the Republic.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said Ireland would take "a proportionate amount, a small number" of freed prisoners.

Mr Corrigan said people needed to be very clear about the prisoners that he was talking about.

"They are not suspects of any kind. These men, approximately 60 in number, have been cleared for release," he added.

Those that remained in captivity were from countries like China and Uzbekistan and could not be sent home because of the human rights record of those countries, he said.



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