The Guantanamo travesty, vol 231

Just how far does the United States think it can go with its sham justice process at Guantánamo?

 

After six years and massive criticism for holding hundreds of prisoners in illegal detention, the US is now compounding its mistakes by staging military commission trials. The media response here is not exactly positive.

The Metros front-paged it - Guantanamo six face death trial - but includes critical comment on how death sentences risk making martyrs of the men. The Independent also lavishes a front page on it - Justice? - and its news piece warns of the dangers of a firestorm of anti-American sentiment from unfair trials and death sentences.

The Daily Telegraph - usually more hawkish on Guantanamo - also quotes a Brookings Institution expert warning of significant evidentiary problems with the commissions. Thats understating it!

Despite the US homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff insisting the trials will be fair, the truth is that the trials are run by the military, use lower standards than ordinary military trials, can use evidence from torture - including waterboarding (have a look at the YouTube spoof) - and of course can impose death sentences with limited means of appeal.

See Amnestys response here and check out a strongly written comment from Victoria Brittain on the impossibility of fair trials after torture for these men.

Its an unholy mess. The US is more or less trying to bluff its way through to show trials after six years, 800 men detained and not a single prosecution to show for it all.

Call me madly principled, but could it be time for America to close Guantánamo and put these men on trial in proper courts? They managed it with the so-called 20th hijacker Zacarious Moussaoui, with the shoe bomber Richard Reid and with the American Taliban'John Walker Lindh .

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