UK: Condoleezza Rice visit: Jack Straw should tell home truths

As the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw accompanies US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today in the north-west of England, Amnesty International called on Mr Straw to use the opportunity to raise key human rights concerns with the American politician.

Amnesty International UK Media Director Mike Blakemore said:

“While showing Condoleezza Rice around Blackburn Jack Straw must find time to tell the US Secretary of State a few home truths about human rights abuses in the ‘war on terror’.

“While there are many points of convergence in US and UK foreign policy, it is important that Mr Straw takes a principled stand against human rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay, in Iraq and within the secret CIA ‘renditions’ operation.

“In the end, standing up for human rights should be the same as operating in the national interest - it’s important that Jack Straw makes this clear at Blackburn.”

Amnesty International believes that Mr Straw’s key demands of Ms Rice should be:

* that the military prison at Guantanamo Bay is closed and that all detainees are ensured a proper trial on the US mainland or freed; Mr Straw should also raise the plight of eight long-term residents of the UK being held, some of whom are recognised refugees, many with families in Britain

* that the US issues a guarantee that all ‘extraordinary renditions’ be immediately halted, that all detainees are allowed lawyers and are either brought to trial or released, and that an independent investigation is allowed into whether CIA and other US agencies have breached US or international laws during renditions

* that the US end internment of the nearly 14,000 ‘security’ detainees in Iraq - some of whom have been held for over two years without trial - and ensure that prisoners are properly tried or released

* that independent investigations are begun into all torture allegations arising from Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and other US-controlled ‘war on terror’ detention locations

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