Guantánamo: Return of UK residents welcomed

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Concern for other prisoners left behind at prison camp

Responding to reports that three UK residents who have been held at the US military prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba will be returned to the UK shortly, Amnesty International has welcomed the news and urged that they be treated “first and foremost as victims”.

The three men - Jamil el-Banna, Omar Deghayes and Abdennour Sameur - are reportedly due to arrive in the UK in the next few hours. The men have been held without charge or trial at Guantánamo for over four years, during which time family members and human rights groups have been barred from seeing them.

Send a message of hope to Ahmed Belbacha and Binyam Mohammed who remain in detention /p>

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“We’re pleased to see these men finally coming out of the oppressive conditions at Guantánamo and able to reunite with their families after years of illegal captivity.

“As we have said before, if there is any evidence of wrongdoing from these individuals then of course legal proceedings against them should be considered.

“But the Guantánamo returnees should be treated first and foremost as victims of a serious miscarriage of justice - having suffered ‘rendition’, secret detention and alleged torture.

“Guantánamo is a travesty of justice. It’s important that the government speaks out about the hundreds of men still held there - including at least two other men with ties to Britain - Ahmed Belbacha and Binyam Mohammed. These men must not become Guantánamo’s forgotten prisoners.

“Meanwhile, government ministers should unequivocally condemn the practice of ‘rendition’ and secret detention - both of which have ‘fed’ the system at Guantánamo in the past six years.”

Recent reports that Mr El-Banna, Mr Deghayes and Mr Sameur were to be released from the prison camp also included news that another UK resident, Shaker Abdur Raheem Aamer, would be released back to his native Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International has long campaigned for the fair trial or safe release of all prisoners at Guantánamo, including UK residents among the 290 still held detainees at the camp.

The organisation is now seeking urgent clarification over the continuing detention - without charge or trial - of Binyam Mohammed, an Ethiopian national who has been resident in the UK, and Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian man with permission to remain Britain pending a decision on his asylum application.

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