USA: Guantánamo Bay - release of UK resident Bisher Al-Rawi welcomed

New call for UK government to act for UK residents at Guantánamo Bay

Responding to today’s news that Bisher al-Rawi, a UK resident from Kingston-on Thames, is set to be released from the US military detention centre at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

"It’s a huge relief that Bisher al-Rawi is finally being released from Guantánamo Bay and it’s important that the UK government ensures that he is promptly reunited with his family in the UK.

“But for the UK’s shadowy role in Mr Al-Rawi and his friend Jamil el-Banna’s arrest in Gambia and eventual rendition to Guantánamo, these men would not have languished in illegal detention for five years.

“There urgently needs to be a fully independent inquiry into any UK complicity with Guantánamo detentions, including that of Mr Al-Rawi and Mr El-Banna. These men should also be entitled to reparation from the US for their unlawful imprisonment.

“Meanwhile, the whole process at Guantánamo has been a travesty of justice and we now need to see the UK government making strong representations for the return of at least seven other UK residents still held at the camp.

“In the past the government has shamefully tried to wash its hands of UK residents at Guantánamo - with Bisher’s belated release, this must now end.

“We are also calling for the shabby show trials at Guantánamo to be abandoned, with all governments - including the UK - making it clear that they will refuse to cooperate with these unfair military trials.

“The sooner that Guantánamo Bay is closed in its entirety, the better.”

Last week Amnesty International published a major report condemning the proposed “military commission” tribunals at Guantánamo Bay as unfair and “a travesty of justice”.

The trials will be run wholly by the US military, will allow evidence obtained under duress and from illegal secret detention centres, will potentially refuse to disclose sources of “evidence” and can impose the death penalty (including for “spying”) with only limited means of appeal. The military commissions are also clearly discriminatory, and only non-US nationals will appear before them.

The organisation is calling for the trials to be scrapped, with existing ordinary courts to be used in the case of any prosecutions. In addition, Amnesty International is urging all countries to press for the closure of Guantánamo and to assist in the voluntary resettlement of released detainees where possible, especially as regards former habitual residents.

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