Thu, 11 Jan 2007

Guantanamo must be closed

Five years ago Guantanamo was opened, not one detainee has since been brought to trial.

(Numbers are approximate. Source: Amnesty International)

Clive Stafford Smith, legal director of the British group Reprieve, which represents three dozen inmates, reminds us that Guantanamo is only the most visible of such detention centres:

‘It is remarkable that Guantanamo still exists five years on, but what is also remarkable is that Guantanamo has distracted attention from other secret prisons the US has. As of August last year we know there are 14,000 prisoners in US custody around the world.’

This is not about statistics, lives are detroyed. The life of many innocent (that is if you accept the old principle that one is innoncent until proven guilty) individuals have been and continue to be ruined. American Lawyer G Brent Mickum representing detained British residents Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna, writes about the treatment of Guantanamo's prisoners:

‘What the British government knows and the British public needs to know is that Bisher's treatment is designed to achieve a single objective: causing an individual to lose his psychological balance and, ultimately, his mind. Every aspect of Bisher's prison environment is controlled and manipulated to create constant mental instability.’

And if you are still under the impression that those detained are, as Rumsfeld once called them, the ‘worst of the worst’ – this is a myth; that all the Guantanamo detainees are combatants who fought against the United States is more propaganda.

Guantanamo must be closed. Torture, under any name, makes us all less safe. Those responsible for Guantanamo should be brought to trial in an international court of justice.

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