SHUT DOWN GUANTANAMO! – but Blair rejects MP’s committee demands

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The Blair government yesterday came under fire from MPs and human rights organisation Amnesty International over the so-called ‘war on terror’.

In its annual human rights report, the Foreign Affairs Committee states:

• ‘We conclude that the continued use of Guantanamo Bay as a detention centre outside all legal regimes diminishes the USA’s moral authority and is a hindrance to the effective pursuit of the war against terrorism.

‘We recommend that the Government make loud and public its objections to the existence of such a prison regime.’

Blair made his reply yesterday afternoon. Asked by journalists would he use his ‘influence’ to get Guantanamo closed, Blair said he had nothing to add to his remarks that the camp is ‘an anomaly and should come to an end’.

The committee report continued that:

• ‘We conclude that the Government has a duty to enquire into the allegations of extraordinary rendition and black sites under the Convention against Torture, and to make clear to the USA that any extraordinary rendition to states where suspects may be tortured is completely unacceptable.

• ‘We recommend that the Government clearly set out its policy on the use of information derived by other states through torture in its response to this Report and that it encourage a public debate on the ethical dilemmas it faces.

• ‘We conclude that the Government should only use Memoranda of Understanding when it can be sure that the monitoring mechanisms in place are entirely effective, and that the Memoranda must not be used as a fig leaf to disguise the real risk of torture for deported terrorism suspects.’

Amnesty International yesterday released a damning 83-page report exposing the damaging effect of the UK’s anti-terrorism policies on human rights.

Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan emphasised: ‘There is now a dangerous imbalance between draconian actions the UK is taking in the name of security and its obligation to protect human rights.’

The report criticises the UK government for its practice of detaining foreign terrorist suspects for years on the basis of secret evidence.

The Amnesty report attacks Control Orders which replaced detention without charge for foreign ‘terror suspects’ in Belmarsh with house arrest for both foreign and UK nationals, and other restrictions of liberty, also on the basis of secret evidence.

• Second news story

Family call for judge to review de Menezes killing

The family of young Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, who was shot dead while being restrained by police on a Tube train, want a High Court judge to investigate his killing by firearms officers.

They made the call after a coroner briefly re-opened the inquest into de Menezes’ death on 22 July.

It was to hear an update on the investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

However, family solicitor Harriet Wistrich said: ‘With highly complex and contentious cases, these should be heard by a High Court judge rather than a coroner.’

The family also said that the IPCC’s offer to brief them – after failing to allow them to see, or brief them on its findings, when they were first announced – was ‘too little, too late’.

The IPCC report into 27-year-old de Menezes’ shooting at Stockwell Tube had been passed to prosecutors, senior investigator John Cummins told the hearing at Southwark Coroner’s Court.

He said: ‘There was no obstruction and I am satisfied it was a full investigation.’

The Crown Prosecution Service will now consider whether to charge any of the Metropolitan Police officers involved in the operation.

The family said they would meet with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions next week when ‘we hope they will explain both the timetable, the process of decision making and any possible charges that are to be brought’.