Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Letters to America (or at least American territory)

I wouldn't want to leave anyone with the impression from some of my recent posts that I think Israel is unique in keeping people locked up after the expiry of their sentences. As the ninth anniversary comes round of the establishment of the USA's infamous Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, let us recall that it currently holds 89 prisoners (none of whom has been tried or convicted of a crime, of course) who have been cleared for release: that is, the US authorities have determined that there was no reason for them to be held in the first place. Which is as close as you can come to expiry of your sentence when you were never sentenced. And now President Obama, who told us that he was going to erase this stain on America's reputation in his first year, has signed into law a bill banning the use of military funds to transfer prisoners to the mainland to be face crimial charges, and banning the release of any of the cleared prisoners to countries considered dangerous by Congress (bad news if you're one of the 58 innocent Yemenis held in the camp).

Here is a message from Reprieve asking people to write to one of the unlucky innocents destined to stay in jail for a good deal longer simply because the members of Congress care more about party political point-scoring than about natural justice or the good name of the country they swore to serve.

Today is the 9th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo Bay and marks two years since President Obama promised to close the prison and seek justice for its inmates. Yet instead of closing the prison, last Friday President Obama signed a bill blocking its closure and condemning its prisoners to indefinite detention without trial.

The 173 prisoners still trapped inside now have little hope of either trial or release after the US Congress inserted provisions into the bill that are explicitly designed to prevent even cleared prisoners from leaving.

The disastrous Defense Authorization bill includes a ban on using funds to transfer Guantánamo prisoners to the US mainland to face criminal trials, a ban on using funds to buy or build a prison on the US mainland to hold Guantánamo prisoners and a ban on the release of any prisoner cleared for release by the Obama Administration’s Guantánamo Review Task Force to countries considered dangerous by Congress.

As a result:
- 89 prisoners cleared for release by the Task Force will remain imprisoned without charge or trial;
- 58 of those cleared prisoners remain imprisoned simply because they are Yemenis, due to a moratorium on releasing any Yemen nationals;
- 31 of those cleared prisoners remain imprisoned largely because they cannot be safely repatriated due to a substantial risk of torture; for many the stain of Guantánamo would vastly increase the risk of persecution;
- 33 prisoners recommended for trials by the Task Force will, for the most part, remain imprisoned without trial.

As you can imagine, this is a very dark time for prisoners in Guantánamo. Please consider writing to someone being held there to offer your support. All the information you need to do so is on our website.

Thank you, as ever, for your support,

The Reprieve Team

For those not put off by Christian imagery, might I humbly submit that I have full confidence that "I was in prison and you wrote me a letter" will count towards the achieving of full right-hand-of-God sheephood (Matthew 25:36). Of course, doing all the other stuff to be on the safe side is just prudent.


At 13 January, 2011 21:37, Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Yea, pretty disgusting from this angle. But most people say 'but I feel so much safer with them locked away' not 'hmm, start disregarding the Constitution and I might eventually be next'


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