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Thursday, July 24, 2003
The disgrace of Guantanamo
The lawyer Louise Christian has a telling article about Guantanamo Bay in today's Guardian. Read it here.
When it was first announced that two British citizens, Feroz Abbasi and Moazzam Begg, were to stand trial before a military commission in Guantanamo Bay, it appeared that at long last Tony Blair would do something to stand up for their human rights. The government came under parliamentary pressure, with 200 MPs of all political parties, including senior Tories and Labour loyalists, signing a motion calling for the men's repatriation to this country. Government ministers Chris Mullin and Baroness Symons were authorised to say that vigorous representations would be made and the government dispatched its most senior law officer, Lord Peter Goldsmith, the attorney general to the US for talks...I have looked at Article 14. Some relevant points are
1. All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law...The italics are all mine. You can browse the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights here. Who knows what other articles the limbo of Guantanamo Bay contravenes?
Louise Christian is dead right. It's about time the government adopted a more robust attitude.
What should happen, and should have happened long ago, is for the British government to make formal diplomatic protests. The Pakistani government has done this and has secured the release, with no requirement for domestic court proceedings, of 30 to 40 of its nationals.Get moaning Tony.
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