Let them go home

SERIOUS questions come to the fore as another batch of prisoners has been returned to their home countries from Guantanamo Bay, the American military base where they had been languishing for many years.

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Published: Fri 14 Dec 2007, 9:42 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:52 AM

Clearly, it shows no guilt has been established against them from the flurry of investigations, interrogations, and review exercises; and that there thus is no justifiable reason to prolong their incarceration any more. More importantly, they have been proved to be innocent. Now, will it be enough just to sympathise with these hapless men and their families?

In fact, they are not alone. Nearly 500 inmates have so far been sent back to their countries, mostly to internally-disturbed countries like Afghanistan or Sudan, and some 300 more are awaiting word about their fate. On the plus side, thankfully a process of law has been allowed to go through. On the other hand, if they are innocent as is clear now, how the US and its agencies involved in the whole exercise, propose to compensate them? Their life has been shattered beyond words, even granted that there was no torture or other forms of physical harassment.

Being away from their home and hearth for long periods, with uncertainty staring point blank at them, the mental tension they went through is only to be experienced to be fathomed. To common knowledge, however, there's not even an expression of sorry; let alone an award of proper compensation. Likely, human rights groups will take up these cases. It is important that justice is done to these men and their families, in ways as to help them repair and reorganise their lives.

There, possibly, were many things going wrong in the Bay, as is evident also from the recent reports about interrogation tapes being made and then destroyed by the CIA, leading to calls from Democrats for a Congressional probe. What did those tapes contain? Were they destroyed only with a view to protecting the CIA officials involved in the interrogation process, as is now being argued? If so, why such sensitive material was not kept in safe US custody? It is in everybody's interest that the rules of the games are followed both in letter and spirit.

While agreeing that terrorism poses an extraordinary threat to our world and it requires matching response, any act of victimising innocent people, even by simple incarceration, has a price to pay. That's the least the world can do to compensate the innocent.

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