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British Guantánamo Prisoners Must be Top of Blair Agenda in Washington

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Stephen Bowen said:

'Tony Blair has stood by and watched as a foreign power arbitrarily imprisoned British citizens in inhumane conditions. Now they may face an unfair trial and even execution.

'It is time for an end to the silence. It is Blair's job to stand up for the rights of British citizens abroad and he must not let them down.

'The strongest possible pressure must be put on President Bush to bring the shameful situation at Guantanamo Bay to an end. All those held should be either charged and face a fair trial, or immediately released.'

The organisation says that the proposed military tribunals, before which UK citizens Moazzam Begg and Feroz Abassi could reportedly stand trial, do not comply with international law. The tribunals are discriminatory as they will only try non-Americans and are not independent, with their members appointed by the US executive. They will accept a lower standard of evidence than ordinary courts and offer no right of appeal to an independent court.

Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the tribunals may impose the death penalty, an inhumane punishment outlawed in the UK and opposed by human rights campaigners around the world.

Amnesty International has stated that nobody should stand trial before these tribunals. The organisation is urging Tony Blair to ensure that British detainees face trial before a court that complies with international standards.

Tony Blair must also make representations on behalf of Bisher Al-Rawi, an Iraqi national legally resident in the UK, and Jamil Al-Banna, a Jordanian national with refugee status in the UK, says Amnesty International. The two men, who were originally arrested on arrival at Banjul Airport, Gambia on 8 November 2002, are also held without charge or trial in Guantánamo Bay. Iraq has no government to represent Bisher Al-Rawi and the UK has a responsibility towards him as one of the occupying powers in Iraq.

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