WorldOfIslam.info - US Accused of Persistent Rights Violations at Camp
U.S. Accused of Persistent Rights Violations at Camp X-Ray
The Bush administration was accused of
violating human rights afforded by the Geneva conventions yesterday by
persistently refusing to allow 600 prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay
access to lawyers, the courts or relatives.
The British government was also criticised for failing to protect the
rights of the eight Britons among the prisoners.
A year after the Pentagon first began transferring al-Qa'ida and Taliban
suspects to the US naval base on the south-east tip of Cuba, human rights
campaigners and lawyers have accused the administration of creating an
unprecedented legal black hole.
Amnesty International said: "No access to the courts, law-yers or
relatives; the prospect of indefinite detention in small cells for up to
24 hours a day; the possibility of trials by executive military
commissions with the power to hand down death sentences; and no right of
appeal. Is this how the USA defends human rights and the rule of law? This
legal limbo is a continuing violation of human rights standards which the
international community must not ignore."
The first prisoners were flown to Guantanamo Bay a year ago today,
blindfolded, handcuffed, their ankles shackled and wearing ear-muffs.
Despite fears that the men were not being granted the rights afforded to
them by international agreements, the Bush administration refused to
rec-ognise them as prisoners of war and instead described them as "enemy
At the time, Rear-Admiral John Stufflebeem of the US Joint Chiefs of
Staff, said of the men held in the temporary prison called Camp X-Ray:
"They are bad guys. They are the worst of the worst and if let out on the
street, they will go back to the proclivity of trying to kill Americans
But after being interrogated by the CIA and FBI, none of the men have been
charged with any crime. Three Afghan prisoners – including two elderly and
frail men – were returned home after the US decided they were "no longer a
Campaigners complain that the fate of the prisoners does not appear to be
an issue. Thomas Wilner, a Washington-based lawyer who represents 12
Kuwaiti prisoners, said: "These are violations of basic human rights and
something that Americans should care about. But the public responds with
fear and deference to the government in times of crisis."
British officials – including members of the security services – have made
several visits to the eight Britons held at Guantanamo Bay. They said they
are satisfied with the conditions in which the prisoners are being held.
Yesterday a Foreign Office spokesman said the Government continued to
"press the US about the future of the Britons" and had urged it to come to
a decision about their future.
The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, has made clear he believes the
prisoners should be returned to Britain, though the decision on whether to
charge them would be taken by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Lawyers representing the Britons have accused the British government of
doing too little to help their clients. In November, three Court of Appeal
judges described the detention of the Britons as "objectionable" but ruled
that the Foreign Office could not be forced to do more.
Neil Durkin, a spokesman for Amnesty, said the Government was tacitly
supporting the violation of human rights. "We don't think the UK
Government has done enough," he said.
By Andrew Buncombe - The
Independent / 11 January 2003
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