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Bush Urged to End Guantanamo ‘Charade’

PA News, UK
Dec. 3, 2003
David Barrett, Legal Affairs Correspondent • Thursday December 4, 2003

Human rights group Amnesty International today called on the US government to end the charade of Guantanamo Bay.

The call came after reports that military lawyers assigned to the inmates accused of international terrorism believe tribunal rules violate their own professional and ethical codes.

Some 660 Taliban and al Qaida suspects, including nine Britons, are being held as unlawful combatants at the US naval base in Cuba.

Amnesty Internationals Rob Freer said: It is time for the US to end the legal charade of Guantanamo Bay.

Reports that military lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainees have refused to take part in planned trials by military commissions only underlines the rampant unfairness of the whole process.

It was reported yesterday that lawyers representing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were planning a lawsuit against the US government, claiming that fair trials for the detainees were not possible.

American lawyers said the rules governing the forthcoming military tribunals were so restrictive that they effectively prevented due process of law.

Mr Freer added: It is not too late for the US authorities to scrap plans for these trials, replacing them with an open process that would mean detainees have immediate access to lawyers with interrogations meanwhile suspended and proper trials with full appeal rights and no resort to the death penalty.

Anyone who is not to be charged with a recognisable criminal offence should be immediately released.

None of the inmates held as part of the war on terror has had a court hearing a situation which civil rights groups say is illegal.

Vanity Fair magazine reported that military lawyers assigned to the inmates had significant concerns about the tribunal plans.

The lawyers were putting their complaints to their respective state bar associations, which were expected to give the go-ahead for a suit in the US Federal Court, the magazine said.

The suit would claim that the orders given to the military lawyers were unlawful.

If successful, it could derail the controversial tribunal process.

Following months of political pressure, there is increasing speculation that some of the British detainees will be released soon.

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