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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Guantanamo Bay: 8 years on it’s time for closure!

London’s Green MEP, Jean Lambert spoke at a demonstration outside the US embassy in London today – 11th January – the eighth anniversary of the opening of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. (1) She has also submitted a parliamentary written question asking the European Commission to clarify what steps have been taken by Member States towards this end. Almost a year ago President Obama set a deadline of the 22nd January 2010 for its closure.

Jean Lambert MEP, who took part in the demonstration, commented:

“President Obama is not alone in believing that the very existence of Guantanamo is a recruiting device for violent extremists with a variety of goals. Why is the United States seemingly so intent on prolonging this injustice when it does not make their country safer?”

“The existence of Guantanamo has been used by oppressive regimes to justify their own denial of human rights such as arbitrary detention for long periods, the use of inhumane and degrading treatment and torture, and trials that are not worthy of the name. The US, with the assistance of the EU, needs to lead the way in the closure of Guantanamo and in securing a just settlement for the detainees to prove that it can live up to its rhetoric on human rights and democracy.”

“Today I have asked the European Commission to clarify any steps which have been taken by EU Member States to assist in the closure of Guantanamo by agreeing to receive former detainees. It would be in the best interests of those individuals, and in our collective interest, to help heal the festering wound that is Guantanamo and restore the rule of law based on respect for human rights. I hope we do not have to return to the US Embassy to protest the ninth anniversary of the centre next year. Guantanamo must close!”

NOTE TO EDITORS
(1) The demonstration was organisted by the London Guantánamo Campaign, which campaigns for justice for all prisoners at Guantánamo bay, for the closure of this and other secret prisons, and an end to the practice of extraordinary rendition.

There are currently just under 200 prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, including two British residents. Approximately 50 prisoners are due for release once suitable countries are found to accommodate them. Around two dozen prisoners are likely to face trial in the US mainland. Concerns have been expressed as to the likelihood of any prisoners receiving a fair trial after eight years of arbitrary detention and the likelihood of much of the evidence being tainted by torture and other illegal methods of obtaining it.