Guantanamo: 'We will close' promises not enough- Ming Campbell in Washington
Posted: 15 May 2008
Sir Menzies Campbell speaks out after Amnesty delegation meets US government to discuss future of notorious prison camp
'It is now essential that we receive a timetable for Guantánamo's closure' - Ming Campbell
Sir Menzies Campbell has this evening spoken of the 'essential' need to close the notorious military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba after meeting members of the US government in Washington today as part of an Amnesty International delegation to the US capital.
The comments came on the first day of his three-day trip to discuss ways of closing the prison and allow fair trials or safe releases for the roughly 270 Guantánamo detainees still held.
The former Liberal Democrat leader, who is Vice Chair of the All Party Group on Rendition as well as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, has also been raising the issue of 'extraordinary rendition' flights and secret 'war on terror' detentions with the US government.
After meetings today with US government officials, Sir Menzies said:
'Today I was told that the US government intends to close the camp 'as soon as possible', but this is not good enough.
'We've heard these promises on numerous occasions from both Republican and Democrat leaders, yet we are now well into the seventh year of Guantánamo's shameful existence.
'The time for talking is over and the time for action is long overdue. It is now essential that we receive a timetable for Guantánamo's closure.'
Delegation member Sarah Burton, Amnesty International's Campaign Programme Director, said:
'Guantánamo is a travesty of justice and we've been saying for years that its closure cannot come soon enough. Political pressure is vitally important and we sincerely hope that this delegation will generate the political will for Guantánamo's gates to be closed once and for all.'
Sir Menzies, who has been a consistent critic of the Guantánamo prison camp, is conducting a series of high-level meetings in Washington as part of an Amnesty International delegation arranged to discuss ways of bringing about the camp's closure as well as the ending of all unlawful 'war on terror' detention practices.
The former Liberal Democrat leader today discussed Amnesty International's 13-Point Plan for Guantánamo's closure with US government officials. On Thursday the delegation will present members of the US Congress with a petition calling for the prison camp's closure signed by over 1,200 parliamentarians from around the world. The delegation will also distribute a new Amnesty International campaigning film against 'waterboarding' torture.
Sir Menzies added:
'I know that millions of ordinary Americans are ashamed about the direction their country has taken on Guantánamo and the 'war on terror' - now is the time for a major change of direction.'
Sir Menzies is being accompanied to Washington by the German MP, Christoph Strasser. The delegation also comprises senior members of Amnesty International from London and Washington.