Guantánamo Bay: 'Second Anniversary' Letter to Blair Calls for End to Legal Black Hole

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'In our letter to the Prime Minister we have urged that he calls on the US government to ensure legal representation and fair trials are the bottom line not just for the nine Britons in Guantánamo Bay, but for all 650-plus detainees held without charge or trial.

'With some of the Guantánamo prisoners about to enter their third year of captivity without access to lawyers, and without charge or trial, the need for urgent moves to end this travesty of justice could not be clearer.

'As a former lawyer himself Mr Blair must surely realise that Guantánamo Bay is nothing short of a disgrace and basic human rights need to be restored.'

Azmat Begg, father of Moazzam Begg, one of the Britons being held in Guantánamo Bay, said:

'It shocks me that we are about to see the second anniversary of Guantánamo Bay and still I don't know what is going to happen to my son Moazzam or any of the hundreds of people being held out there.

'I understand President Bush is very receptive to representations from Tony Blair on the fate of Britons in Guantánamo Bay. I only hope that Mr Blair reads Amnesty International's letter with care and acts on its recommendations.'

Amnesty International's letter outlines its long-held concern that all Guantánamo Bay detainees are either charged with recognisable criminal offences or released, that legal counsel is immediately provided to all inmates (and interrogations meanwhile suspended), and that Amnesty International is granted access to Camp Delta in Cuba.

The human rights organisation recently raised the matter with Mr Blair when US President George Bush visited the UK last November. Amnesty International still awaits a reply to that earlier letter.

Amnesty International's new letter to Mr Blair urges him to call for plans for trials by military commissions to be dropped. In July 2003 it emerged that two of the nine UK nationals being held at Camp Delta - Moazzam Begg and Feroz Abbasi - were among six prisoners that the US authorities indicated might be subject to trial by military commissions. These executive bodies have the power to hand down death sentences against which there would be no right of appeal to any court.

If the military commissions go ahead, Amnesty International is requesting permission to observe the proceedings.

Relevant information:

'Guantánamo Bay: a human rights scandal' Amnesty International action site

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