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Anorak | British Residents Of Guantanamo Return

British Residents Of Guantanamo Return

by | 8th, August 2007

BRONWEN Maddox loosk at the Government’s decision to ask the US to send back five former British residents held at Guantanamo Bay is the right one

Why the change? The Government says it has shifted position because the US is now taking steps to shrink Guantanamo. But to claim a victory of principle in this way is misleading. It would be more accurate to say that the US has called Britain’s bluff.
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For two years a series of ministers, culminating in Blair himself, criticised Guantanamo for offending shared values, including the rule of law and the right to a fair trial. They were on good ground on the three points that have made Guantanamo so contentious internationally: the lack of adequate means of distinguishing suspects from ordinary people scooped up near a battlefield; indefinite detention without trial; and for the small minority charged, the use of special, new “military commissions” to try them.

The US, while nodding to these complaints in last year’s Military Commissions Act, has tried to portray the rising embarrassment of Guantanamo as a practical problem that other countries could help it to solve, if they chose. It lamented that it would get rid of the inmates if it could only find homes abroad for these undesirables, many unwanted in their own countries.

It looked hard at Britain when it made that point, the more so as ministers’ criticism became louder. For the past year the public efforts of David Johnson, until last month the second-in-command at the US Embassy in London, seemed devoted to the advocacy of the case.

The pressure worked, finally, in getting Britain to reverse its position on taking back the residents.



Posted: 8th, August 2007 | In: Reviews Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink