What chance a fair trial for Binyam?
Amid the scandalous amount of coverage of stories such as the Italian snails taking up residence at Profumo’s old haunt of Cliveden there seemed to be little space on the TV news yesterday evening for the High Court’s ruling on the case of Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohammed.
So I was pleased to see the Guardian leading on this story in very strong terms. It quotes lawyers for Binyam, a British resident, describing the ruling – that the UK Government should disclose secret evidence said to support his claims that he was tortured into confessing to crimes he did not commit – as “momentous”. It was and Amnesty has welcomed it.
But the judges based their ruling on an assertion that without the information held by MI5, Binyam would be unable to put up a defence to the charges against him. It’s unlikely he’d be able to do so anyway because he faces a shoddy military commission rather than a proper trial.
Run wholly by the US Department of Defense, military commissions can allow evidence obtained under duress and from illegal secret detention centres. They will potentially refuse to disclose sources of ‘evidence’ and can impose the death penalty, with only limited means of appeal.
Binyam needs to be returned to Britain and released or given a proper trial. He has already been held in harsh conditions for over six years and, according to his lawyer, his mental health has suffered considerably. As a matter of urgency, we want him moved to a less harsh environment within Guantanamo - take action here.
And of course, the whole shameful Guantánamo regime, of harsh conditions, ill-treatment and military show should be brought to an end.
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.