Guantánamo's back

Guantánamo Bays back in the news, on a couple of fronts. First, we had The New York Times reporting yesterday that there had been another particularly horrible suicide attempt at the camp.The camp authorities say that a prisoner has tried to cut his throat with his own sharpened fingernail. There was, to quote the camps military medics, a lot of bleeding from the wound, which needed stitches.Typically, Guantánamos military are saying that this was a suicidal gesture, and not a genuine suicide - though how they would know this is open to question. The real point is that, with four already dead (apparently having killed themselves) and with scores of suicide attempts from desperate prisoners, the draconian and illegal regime there is taking its toll.Our research shows that about 80% of the 300 prisoners are being kept in solitary confinement, often in harsh and inhumane conditions. Lets be honest, the entire process at Guantánamo is a travesty of justice and many prisoners seem to be in despair - dangerously close to full-blown mental and physical breakdown after years of confinement.Theres a glimmer of hope though. As The FT report this morning, a major new legal challenge against Guantánamo got underway yesterday. In the US Supreme Court lawyers for some of the prisoners tried to convince Americas top court of the simple fact that its wrong to deny the detainees the right to effectively challenge their detention. Check out The Guantánamo Blog to hear some of the arguments.One of the Guantánamo lawyers is Marc Falkoff, whos in London next week for an Amnesty event to launch - wait for it - a new book of poems from Guantánamo prisoners. Its perhaps not what the majority of the 800-plus prisoners whove been held at Guantánamo have been doing during their confinement, but 17 prisoner-poets have now seen their behind-bars work collected in a book called Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak.There are still some places left at a special (and free!) Amnesty launch event for the book next Wednesday (12 December) . Follow the link to reserve a place if youre interested.Meanwhile lots of coverage today of the governments latest gambit on pre-charge detention - lets go for 42 days before charge and get Parliament to approve the extended detention. This is proving massively unpopular. Talk about building a consensus! A consensus of those opposed, more like. Along with a host of others, were firmly against these authoritarian measures which, as Iain Dale says (at 11.43am), increasingly smack of a Home Office lottery to get the right number.While its not exactly true that countries like the USA have shorter periods of pre-charge detention in all cases (what about those that havent been charged at Guantánamo after nearly six years!?), its depressing to see Britains human rights reputation is being dragged through the mud with these proposals. The sooner Jacqui Smith and her colleagues abandon them, the better.Finally, if you havent already, go to our Unsubscribe campaign to support human rights under attack in the war on terror.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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