Human rights group Amnesty International has called on the US government to "end the legal black hole into which it has thrown hundreds of detainees in Guantanamo Bay" in Cuba. A statement issued by the Canadian section of AI on January 10 criticised the White House for its detention of more than 600 prisoners from the war on Afghanistan at the US Navy base.
According to AI, "This legal limbo is a continuing violation of human rights standards which the international community must not ignore".
"No access to the courts, lawyers or relatives; the prospect of indefinite detention in small cells for up to 24 hours a day; the possibility of trials by executive military commissions with the power to hand down death sentences and no right of appeal: is this how the USA defends human rights and the rule of law?", AI asked.
Amnesty claims that up to 10% of the Guantanamo prisoners are being held despite having been deemed of "no intelligence value during interrogations in Afghanistan".
The US government has stripped the captives of the human rights which would normally be guaranteed to prisoners of war by classifying them as "illegal combatants".
The group is calling for "the voluntary repatriation of all those detained as combatants during the international armed conflict in Afghanistan, as required under the Geneva Conventions, unless they are to be charged with criminal offences or would face serious human rights abuses if returned to their country.
"Any other of the Guantanamo detainees should be charged with recognisably criminal offences and tried within a reasonable time, or released, but not returned to any country where they would be at risk of torture, execution or other serious human rights abuses."
From Green Left Weekly, January 29, 2003.
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