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Government pressure on Guantanamo men despicable, says SACC

Press Release from SACC
10am Tuesday 16 November

Human rights group Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) welcomes reports, expected to be confirmed by a ministerial statement later today, that former Guantanamo prisoners from Britain are to receive compensation from the Government without having to continue battling their way through the courts.

But we deplore the fact that the halting of the former prisoners' civil case against the Government puts an end to the only process currently in sight that might get close to the truth about the British Government's involvement in rendition, illegal detention and torture. The forthcoming inquiry into these matters, to be chaired by Sir Peter Gibson, the current commissioner for the intelligence services, is clearly going to be a whitewash and will clearly not consider, let alone publish, the sort of evidence that would have been presented in the civil case.

It is despicable that the Government has forced these traumatised and vulnerable men to choose between getting the compensation they deserve, and having to fight their way endlessly through the courts knowing that the Government will use every trick at its disposal to derail the proceedings.

The Government says that it is in the national interest to keep these cases out of court. That's nonsense. It can't possibly be in the national interest, or in the interest of anything else decent, to lie and to cover up and to evade responsibility for grave crimes under international law.

The Government's evasion means that we are all at risk of illegal treatment and torture at the hands of people working for or with the British Government. It means that the whole world can see that the British Government believes illegality to be a central part of its war on terror.

Britain will not be able to move on until we know the whole truth about this shameful - and probably ongoing - episode in our history, until those responsible have been held to account through the criminal justice system, and until safeguards have been put in place to prevent any such thing happening again.

The Government has, possibly, got a few traumatised and vulnerable men off its back. Now it has to reckon with the rest of us