UK: Government must accept return of residents held at Guantánamo

Responding to reports today in The Guardian newspaper that the USA has offered to return to the UK nearly all of the UK residents currently held at Guantánamo Bay, Amnesty International is calling on the UK government to fulfil its obligations under domestic and international law and ensure the immediate return of all the men to Britain.

To date, the UK has agreed to petition their US counterparts to seek the release and return to Britain of just one man, Bisher Al-Rawi.

Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Programme Director Nicola Duckworth said:

"The UK government has obligations towards these men as some of them have been residents in the UK for a long time and have family members who are UK nationals. Others have refugee status in the UK.

"In addition, the UK authorities must ensure that a full, independent and impartial investigation is held into the UK’s involvement in the cases of Bisher Al-Rawi, a UK resident, and Jamil El-Banna, who has refugee status in the UK."

It has been alleged that the UK was involved in the arrest of both men in Gambia as well as their ‘rendition’ to US custody. Amnesty International is emphasising that any investigation into the affair must establish whether the UK security services were complicit in their detention and subsequent human rights violations.

Nicola Duckworth added:

"The UK authorities must also ensure that on return to the UK the UK residents are afforded at least the same status as they enjoyed before their unlawful detention at Guantánamo Bay, and are not subsequently sent anywhere where they would be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

"If any of the UK residents currently held at Guantánamo Bay are reasonably suspected to have committed a recognisably criminal offence, they should be charged immediately and tried in fair proceedings."

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