There may be trouble ahead...
Times, Guardian or Independent? I wasn’t sure which paper I was going to buy this morning until I saw the Indy’s front page headline: ‘The Last Briton in Guantanamo faces death penalty’.
This is the story of Binyam Mohamed, the British resident still languishing in the US-run detention centre. The Independent has given the story a lot of prominence, including a leader and also an opinion piece from Binyam’s lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith.
I see trouble ahead for the UK government. He will shortly face a military commission – opposed not just by us at Amnesty but by the UK government. And he could face the death penalty – opposed in all cases not just by us at Amnesty but by the UK government. Binyam has sent a plea for help to Gordon Brown from his cell. That's his cell at Guantanamo – you’ve guessed it, opposed not just by us at Amnesty but by the UK government.
The government is also feeling the heat over its proposal to extend pre-charge detention of terrorism suspects to 42 days here in Britain. Some of the many MPs who oppose the move may be won over by the concessions now apparently being made, but not Amnesty.
The right to be promptly charged and given a fair trial is a basic human right, dating back to the Magna Carta and enshrined in international law.
There is a real risk that lengthy pre-charge detention will be seen as specifically targeting the Muslim community, and that a sense of being discriminated against will alienate people.
If this happens, policing and intelligence gathering will be made much harder. That’s exactly what happened when detention without charge was used in Northern Ireland. Isn’t it time we learned the lessons of history? Sign our Number 10 petition here.
Be seeing you.
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.