Posted by: Lister | March 8, 2007

Jamil el-Banna@Guantanamo

(Feb 2006) Cabinet minister Peter Hain has said he thinks the US-run detention camp at Guantanamo Bay should be shut down. Tony blair calls the camp an “anomaly”. I take that to mean Mr Blair wants to bury his head in the sand and ignore data that doesn’t fit in with his world-view.

The issue is not resolved, as pointed out in Feb 2007 by Sarah Teather, LibDem MP for Brent East.

“The Government has a clear moral duty to help men such as my constituent, Jamil el-Banna, who has been detained in Guantanamo Bay without charge or trial for five years.

“It is a disgrace that our Government have been complicit in illegal practices. Guantanamo Bay violates every accepted legal principle, and is directly at odds with the democratic values the ‘war on terror’ purports to defend.

“The last four years have been a living hell for Jamil’s British family here in London. It is high time the Government used its influence with this American administration to bring UK residents home.”

The Government’s involvment in CIA rendition:

It is unlikely, the report says, that European governments were unaware of rendition activities on their territory, something the British government, among others, has denied.

And some say even the arrest of Jamil el-Banna was as a result of infomation provided by M15.

The report, concluding a year-long high-profile investigation into CIA activities in Europe, gives no direct proof that the US intelligence agency ran secret prisons in Europe, but accuses some governments of complicity with the US secret renditions programme.

[…]How certain EU members’ governments colluded with the CIA program:

:: BRITAIN – Telegrams from MI5 to an unspecified foreign government suggest the abduction of British residents Bisher Al-Rawi and Jamil El-Banna (to Afghanistan and Guantanamo) was facilitated by partly erroneous information it had supplied. Al-Rawi and El-Banna ended up in Guantanamo.



  1. Response from my MP:

    Thank you for your recent letter about Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

    Although I support the fight against terrorism, I have always believed that this must be conducted within the rule of law. For some time, Conservatives have expressed reservations about detention without due process or trial at Guantanamo Bay. I think that detainees should have been charged and provided with access to a transparent and fair legal process.

    I believe that Guantanamo Bay has damaged the moral authority of the United States and our cause in the global fight against international terrorism. This has led to a loss of goodwill to the US that could have serious long-term implications. In promoting democracy and standing up for the rule of law, nothing we do should undermine it or our achievements in emerging democracies. There is a need to find a better way to address the problem the detention centre was designed to solve.

    I am a supporter of the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the US. That is not to say, however, that there cannot be certain disagreements over policy. We should be able to work together for the common good but also show a willingness to face difficult choices. I agree with comments made last year by my colleague William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary that ‘the relationship should be solid but not slavish, firm but also fair.’ The battle against terrorists requires moral as well as military strength.

    He gives moral support, then, but no promise of action.

  2. I’m not the kind to be satisfied with moral support. So I sent another letter to my MP:

    Thank you for the moral support you provided in your previous response. I am wondering if you intend to sign any of the EDMs on the issue of Guantanamo.

    EDM 1694


    Teather, Sarah
    That this House applauds the Times Series Newspapers on their `Justice for Dad’ campaign with its call to the British Government and US Administration to bring justice to Jamil el-Banna, a British resident held in Guantanamo Bay for over three years without charge or trial; regrets the Prime Minister’s use of the word `anomaly’ to describe the camp at Guantanamo Bay and suggests that he uses the term `international disgrace’ in the future; and calls on the British Government to acknowledge its moral duty towards British residents held in Guantanamo Bay, particularly those such as Jamil el-Banna who have British children, and to make immediate representations to the US Administration calling for Jamil el-Banna and other British residents either to be given a fair trial or to be released without further delay.

    EDM 561


    Teather, Sarah
    That this House regretfully marks the fifth anniversary on 11th January 2007 of the opening of Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility by the Bush administration, where many of the key principles of American justice have been broken; notes that amongst the remaining detainees there are nine British residents who continue to be denied access to a free and fair trial; considers this to be in breach of every fundamental legal principle and directly at odds with the very values the war on terror purports to defend; notes the recent FBI report alleging multiple occasions of degrading and abusive mistreatment of prisoners at the hands of US interrogators; supports the American Civil Liberties Union’s call for a more comprehensive investigation into the scope of abuses and the root causes and policies that led to them; condemns the Government’s failure to provide consular assistance to British residents currently held in Guantanamo Bay; and calls on both the Government and the international community to do all in its power to urge the USA to close Guantanamo Bay so that British residents can be returned home and either charged with a crime or released.

    Are you aware of this story:
    UK firm picketed over Guantanamo ‘torture’ shackles (Sept 2005)

    Protesting outside Hiatt’s headquarters in Perry Barr in Birmingham, Clive Stafford Smith, the lawyer for eight of the 10 British men being held in the jail in Cuba, as well as 30 other foreign nationals, said: “I have seen 20 prisoners in Guantanamo in Hiatt shackles. They say all the others are in Hiatt shackles. What you have is a series of people who are British residents being held in British-made shackles.”

    Birmingham MPs Clare Short and Lynne Jones signed their names to a letter, published in the Guardian, asking Hiatt to stop selling to the US.

    Thank You

  3. I forgot to post the response to the EDM letter, 29th March

    Thank you for your further e-mail about Guantanamo Bay. I am unable to sign EDM 1694 because it was laid in the last Parliamentary session and lapsed last November.

    I have to difficulties over EDM 561. First, I am far from convinced that such an EDM is actually going to help persuade either this or a future US administration to close the camp. Second, it seems to me that the ACL’s call for a detailed investigation is sa matter for the American people and their elected representatives and not for the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

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