Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday 7 August 2007

UK Government seeks residents' release from Guantanamo

BBC News24 is just reporting the Foreign Office have now requested the US authorities to release five of the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who were legally resident in the UK prior to their incarceration, but are not British citizens. This represents a change of policy by the UK, which has hitherto said that it cannot act on behalf of people who are not its own nationals.

Generally speaking I am very pleased at this development as the continuing existence of the illegal detention regime operated by the US at Guantanamo is a scandal which stains America's democracy. Perhaps the change by the British government is designed to 'help' the US close the site, by agreeing to take off its hands at least a few of those it continues to detain, but the real solution is either for the US to charge those it holds before a court in the US itself, where there is proper recourse to the norms of the US justice system, not to subject the detainees to the 'kangaroo' courts which not even its own military lawyers believe in any more and are becoming more and more vocal in denouncing. If it cannot do these things, credibly, then the detainees should be released. Period.

The US must be aware that should it release these five people into UK custody it is highly unlikely that grounds will exist for them to be detained in the UK if and when they arrive back here, any more than there were with the British citizens who were released from detention at Guantanamo some time ago.

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