Washington, D.C.—Today, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) joins with Brazil’s Conectas Direitos Humanos and the United Kingdom’s Reprieve, three leading international human rights organizations, in calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to look to Brazil as a potential resettlement destination for detainees who have been cleared for release from the Guantanamo detention facility.
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The request was formally delivered to the Obama administration on June 26, on the eve of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s highly-anticipated visit to Washington, and comes after months of behind-the-scenes dialogue between the groups and both Brazilian and U.S. officials on putting an end to the human rights disaster that is the Guantanamo prison.
To read the joint letter to President Barack Obama, click here.
In the letter, the three organizations assert that Brazil would be well-suited to successfully resettle detainees, and that there would be “substantial support” for Brazil taking leadership on this issue, as illustrated by recent expressions of approval of the idea in Brazil’s leading newspaper over the weekend. “President Rousseff’s visit presents the best possible opportunity for [President Obama] to officially request the Government of Brazil to accept Guantánamo detainees for resettlement,” the letter reads.
It continues: “The United States must therefore seize every possible opportunity to resettle detainees who have been long cleared for release from Guantanamo, unanimously, by six U.S. government agencies including the Departments of Defense and State.…[W]e respectfully request that [the administration] make a personal appeal to President Rousseff for the assistance of Brazil in closing Guantanamo.”
Noting Brazil’s status as a regional leader with important standing on human rights issues in the hemisphere, the letter also states that Brazil’s acceptance of detainees could inspire other countries in the Americas to follow its example. “[W]e believe that if President Rousseff were to accept this request, other countries in this hemisphere would follow suit, allowing for significant progress to be made in finding homes for those who are cleared,” the letter affirms.
Digital Communications Officer, WOLA