Guantanamo refusal 'hypocritical'

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The Norwegian government’s refusal to take in prisoners from the US’ controversial prison camp at Guantanamo has prompted new accusations that Norway maintains a double standard. The Norwegian government had called for the camp’s shutdown for years, but now won’t help the US in its efforts to close it.

Newspaper Aftenposten ran a scathing editorial in its Tuesday edition, accusing the Norwegian government of “speaking grandly and principled when things don’t involve us directly, but falling silent when our points of view can affect us. Some call that a double standard.”

In this case, the criticism is over the Norwegian government’s refusal to help the US government shut down Guantanamo by taking in its inmates.

Norway, Aftenposten notes, joined most other European countries in urging the US to close the camp. Most claimed that it violated human rights and international legal standards by incarcerating prisoners on vague grounds and holding them indefinitely. Many felt Guantanamo undermined the US’ own legal ideals and the entire war on terrorism.US President Barack Obama now plans to close Guantanamo, a move applauded by the Norwegian government. Obama, however, has asked for international help in taking in the camp’s released prisoners.

Norway has turned down the request, with Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre telling newspaper VG that there already is too much pressure on Norwegian asylum centers. Norway, Støre claimed, can’t handle more refugees, not even from Guantanamo.

That’s set off the cries of hypocrisy. “We’ll gladly criticize, but will we take the consequences of our criticism?” mused Aftenposten . “No, we won’t go that far.”

Støre’s reason for refusing to accept Guantanamo inmates has been branded as way too thin. The refusal also is said to defy NATO’s call for support for the US after the terrorist attack of 2001.

It’s not the first time Norway has been accused of hypocrisy in recent months. The government, it’s been pointed out, has called for major emissions cuts worldwide to combat climate change, while Norway’s own oil industry generates emissions both at home and abroad.

On Tuesday, the father of a Norwegian woman raped and murdered in London last year also accused the Foreign Ministry of double standards because it’s been reluctant to get directly involved in the case and demand extradition of her alleged attacker, currently believed to be hiding out in Yemen.

“Norway gladly writes out ethical prescriptions for others, but won’t take them itself,” wrote Odd Petter Magnussen. “Words and deeds don’t hang together.”