British MPs call for closure of Guantanamo Bay

Campaign News | Saturday, 20 January 2007

Conditions in US prison camp 'threaten to undermine Geneva Convention'

British MPs have called for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay terror prison "as soon as possible" after a recent visit.

Members of the foreign affairs select committee visited the high-security prison in Cuba last September, the first members of a non-US national parliament to do so.

They concluded that the facilities for the 460 inmates are broadly comparable to those at Britain's high-security equivalent, the Belmarsh maximum security detention facility.

Although standards on diet and health provision were high, access to exercise and recreation, lawyers and the outside world remained extremely low and below minimum British standards.

MPs warned that the US' treatment of the prisoners threatened to undermine the Geneva Conventions on human rights and called on the international community to step up its efforts to work with the US on the Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

"We recommend that the government engage actively with the US administration and with the international community to assist the process of closing Guantanamo as soon as may be consistent with the overriding need to protect the public from terrorist threats," the report concludes.

Less than a quarter of the 395 prisoners in the prison area of the Guantanamo Bay US naval base captured along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border in the 2001/2 winter are likely to face a tribunal in the immediate future.

Amnesty International's UK director, Kate Allen, said she was disappointed by the report's

equivocal response to the suspected terrorists' current situation.

"We would have liked to have seen the committee unequivocally backing Amnesty International's long-standing call for Guantanamo to be closed immediately," she told the BBC.$463887.htm

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