Guantanamo Bay must close: It is time for the Prime Minister to take action and to demand the closure of the camp.

Sir Menzies Campbell MP, today called for the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities to be closed, and the detainees to be released without delay or swiftly brought to trial. His demand follows the publication of a UN report on conditions in the camp.

Sir Menzies has written a letter today to the Prime Minister in which he calls on him to press the United States government to close the detention facilities.

He also asks the Prime Minister to confirm what representations have been made by the Government on behalf of British residents being held at Guantanamo Bay, and to clarify whether British officials have had any role in supporting or facilitating the transfer of individuals to the camp.

Commenting, Sir Menzies said:

The systematic violation of human rights undermines the moral authority of the West and makes it impossible to win the long-term battle for hearts and minds.

It is time for the Prime Minister to take action and to demand the closure of the camp. Detainees should either be charged or released.

I also hope that the senior representatives of the Conservative Party presently visiting Washington will use the opportunity to make it plain that the present situation at Guantanamo Bay is intolerable.

The findings of the UN report are deeply damaging. These practices can have no place in a civilised democracy.

Notes to editors:

Full text of the letter to the Prime Minister:

You will be aware of the United Nations report issued today by five mandate-holders of special procedures of the Commission of Human Rights, on the situation of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. It concludes that the continuing detention of persons at Guantanamo Bay is in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture.

The report concludes that the situation amounts to arbitrary detention, and violates the right to a fair trial. It describes general conditions as amounting to inhuman treatment and interrogation techniques as being of “utmost concern”. It deems the excessive violence used during transportation, and force-feeding of detainees on hunger strike, as amounting to torture. It condemns the rendition of detainees to countries where they may face torture as a violation of the non-refoulement principle; and states that there may have been violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief, and the right to health.

In light of these findings, do you agree with me that the continuing detention of persons at Guantanamo Bay constitutes a wholly unacceptable violation of human rights? Will you now press the United States government to implement the recommendations of the report to close Guantanamo Bay detention facilities, and either expeditiously bring all detainees to trial, in accordance with due process, or release them without delay? Do you agree that no detainee should be subject to practices amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and that none should be transferred to a state where he is at real risk of torture?

Could you also tell me what representations the British government is making on behalf of the former British residents currently being held at Guantanamo Bay? And could you confirm that British officials have had no role in supporting the transfer of individuals to Guantanamo, or taken any steps which have led to such a transfer?

Would you not agree with me that the campaign against international terrorism must draw on a wide range of legislative, security, economic and other measures to tackle the threat, but that it must be compliance with international law? Action which violates fundamental human rights undermines any moral authority we have and generates hostility towards the West which damages the long-term battle for hearts and minds.