13/10/2006

Beckett criticises Guantanamo detentions

UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has mounted an attack on the continuing operation of the US detention camp in Guantamo Bay.

Describing the camp as a "radicalising and destabalising influence," the Foreign Secretary said: "The continuing detention without fair trial of prisoners is unacceptable in terms of human rights, but it is also ineffective in terms of counter-terrorism."

Mrs Beckett used the announcement of the Foreign Office annual report on human rights to further distance the British Government from White House policy.

However, Mrs Beckett was accused of hypocrisy for failing to intervene directly on behalf of UK residents incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.

MPs and human rights campaigners have been critical of the government following a failure of a legal bid to force the Foreign Office to intervene.

Three detainees being held at the Guantamo Bay detention facility have a legal right to reside in Britain, but are not UK nationals.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the Foreign Office did not have a duty to act as the detainees were not British nationals. Human rights groups had contended that the government had a moral obligation to help those detained.

The Foreign Office report highlighted human rights abuses in Iraq as widspread and representing a "serious challenge."

US officials have maintained that the camp performs an essential function, detaining persons believed to have been behind the 9/11 attack on the US.

(SP/KMcA)

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