On the sixth anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, Jean Lambert MEP will be calling for its closure and the return of the remaining British residents to the UK. In conjunction with Cageprisoners and the London Guantanamo Campaign, she will be presenting a letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, before joining peace activists in Whitechapel and speaking at an evening rally in Parliament Square on Friday 11 January.
Since 2002, over 800 detainees have been held at the prison camp and 275 still remain held in Guantanamo Bay. Of those only one has ever been convicted and less than a dozen charged. Despite indications from the US Government that the facility will be closed down, no firm date has yet been set.
Jean Lambert MEP, who also wrote to the Home Office in December to call for the negotiated release of all remaining prisoners in Guantanamo, said:
“By denying legal protection to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and other secret jails around the world, the American military regime consistently makes a mockery of human rights. 275 people remain held in Guantanamo and 630 at the Bagram military base in Afghanistan. There have been persistent reports of mistreatment, lack of access to legal redress and sometimes torturous activities.”
Binyam Mohammed and Ahmed Belbacha, two former British residents, are still imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. The British government has recently taken some positive steps, bringing back four residents to the UK in 2007. Those were Bisher El-Rawi, Jamil El-Banna, Omar Deghayes and Abdel Nour Sameur. None of these men, or the British nationals released before them, has been charged with any offence under British law.
Jean Lambert continued:
“The British government must aid the closure of the Guantanamo Bay facility and other illegal prisons and help repatriate detainees. It is outrageous that so many have been imprisoned for so long without charge. That America has allowed this situation to continue for six years represents a complete disregard for human rights.
”Everyone is entitled to a fair trial. Those detained must be released or charged and tried in a civilian court as a matter of urgency. This illegal imprisonment simply gives the green light for oppressive regimes around the world to disregard human rights when it suits them.”