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Guantanamo detainees may be pressured into false confessions

Press Release 10.00am 25th January 2005

It is expected that the four British detainees coming home from Guantanamo Bay later today will be arrested and questioned by British police on their arrival. The men will then be released unless they admit to criminal activity (source, the Today programme, BBC Radio 4).

These men have been held without trial under appalling conditions. There is no evidence against them. It is outrageous that they should now be arrested on the chance that they might confess to a crime.

They will arrive in Britain traumatised and disoriented. They are likely to have already made false confessions under duress or torture at Guantanamo Bay. Under these circumstances there is a real risk that, in their confusion, they will make similar confessions to the British police.

Louise Christian, who represents detainees Feroz Abbasi and Martin Mubanga, says that "it would be a violation of the Human Rights Act to prolong their ordeal."

Arresting these men cannot possibly serve the interests of justice. It will only confirm suspicions that the British government is more nterested in providing cover for the activities of the Bush administration than in defending the rights of its own citizens or working to regain the confidence of British Muslims.

The British government has provided "security guarantees" to Washington in relation to the men but has not said what they include. But no one can seriously argue that any of these men pose a security threat to Britain or the US. There is no reason why Britain should allow the release of the detainees to be made under conditions imposed solely to reduce US embarrassment. Tony Blair has far more bargaining power than that, should he choose to use it.

We hope that the Metropolitan Police will resist any political pressure and will instead let the men go to the rest and welcome that they deserve.

Representives of the the Muslim Council of Britain met Home Office minister Hazel Blears yesterday to ask for assurances that the detainees would be given the care they need.

Scotland Against Criminalising Communities has made representations to the Home Office and to Commissioner Sir John Stevens of the Metropolitan Police pressing for the men to be treated not as suspects but as torture victims.

SACC Press Release 23/01/05