Blair right on the Bay

PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair of Britain has been a staunch supporter and ally of the US in its so-called war on terror. This is why when Blair says he hopes the Guantanamo Bay prison camp will be closed soon, the US would do well to take the suggestion seriously. Although Blair went to great lengths to justify the US detention centre in Cuba, his argument in the parliament that judicial process needs to be initiated to deal with those held at the infamous camp makes eminent sense.

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Published: Fri 3 Mar 2006, 10:28 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:15 PM

The Guantanamo Bay camp, beyond the reach of US courts and international law, runs in the face of celebrated American values such as individual freedom, human rights, and the rule of law. America would do itself a favour by shutting the prison, which has invited repeated flak from international human rights groups. Not only the United Nations has demanded closure of the camp, two former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton in addition to several Republican and Democrat lawmakers have urged the Bush administration to either close the camp or try the 500 plus detainees in US courts.

The Bay has provided a good opportunity to America’s critics to corner it. The US and its allies in the ‘war on terror’ have been repeatedly accused of acting independent of courts and the due process of law. Democratic and civilised nations like US and its allies have all the more reason to uphold the rule of law while dealing with those seen as a threat to peace and security.

The so-called terror suspects, most of them captured during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, should be given an opportunity to defend themselves either in US courts or their own countries in accordance with the Geneva Conventions on Prisoners of War. If there is no evidence against them, they should be allowed to go home. Cooped like animals without air and light, they have already suffered enough during the past five years.

Even the worst of World War II criminals from Germany and Japan had been given an opportunity to defend themselves in courts. A ruthless dictator like Saddam Hussein has been given an opportunity to defend himself even though his crimes against his own people were as clear as black and white. America’s own homegrown terrorist, Timothy McVeigh, who was responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent men and women, was tried in a court of law. If monsters like these have a right to seek justice, why are those unfortunate men at the Bay being denied an opportunity to present their case in a court of law? Especially when it is widely believed that most of them are innocent and were just unlucky to be in a wrong place at a wrong time.



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