British Residents:The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign (SSAC) held an action opposite Parliament on 11 June to protest Shaker Aamer’s continuing detention and denial of basic rights and to commemorate the anniversary of the Magna Carta. Over a dozen activists braved the rain and were joined by Battersea MP Jane Ellison.
On 11 June, the US Supreme Court turned down appeals from 7 Guantánamo prisoners who had filed habeas corpus writs, to know the reasons for their detention. In the past, by filing such applications, which then reveal that there is no lawful basis for the continued detention of prisoners, as happened in the case of the Uighur prisoners, judges have ordered their release. In this particular case, the judges simply dismissed the appeal without giving reasons. Over the past few years, it has become increasingly difficult for prisoners to fight and appeal their cases in the US courts and their lawyers have laid the blame for this on conservative judges being appointed to the Supreme Court. The dismissed appeal effectively closes the door to these prisoners to know why they have been detained without charge or trial for over ten years and then being able to challenge that reason. For almost 800 years, this has been a basic tenet of the law.
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On 21 June, lawyers for Omar Khadr accused the Canadian government of “stonewalling” on his case. Khadr, 25, is a Canadian national who was convicted in a secret plea bargain on terrorism charges in a trial that involved torture evidence and was the first time anyone had been tried for war crimes committed as a minor since the Second World War. Under this deal, he was due to serve part of his sentence in Canada. That was almost one year ago. Earlier this year, the US and Canadian governments agreed that he would be released by the end of May. More than a month later, there has not been much progress made in this respect. According to his lawyer, John Norris, Omar Khadr and the US have performed their part of the deal for him to be released to Canada and it is the Canadian government that is dragging its heels. He said, “Omar has lived up to his part of his deal. The United States has lived up to its part of the deal. The only reason eight months after he became eligible to return to Canada that Omar still sits in a cell in Guantanamo is because the Canadian government continues to fail in its obligations toward him”.
More on this news: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/lawyers-for-guantanamo-detainee-appeal-to-canada-for-transfer/2012/06/21/gJQAysoItV_story.html
Having published the Justice and Security Bill last month, the government’s proposed plans, to introduce secret trials and prevent some cases concerning “national security” being brought, are continuing to court controversy as they work their way through the House of Lords. Shortly after the bill was published, the Lords Constitution Select Committee and the special advocates, the security-vetted barristers who would be used in such secret trials, both published critical responses to the Bill. Concerns continue to be raised about the fairness and constitutionality of the proposals, which would undermine the right to a fair trial and other centuries-old legal principles. The parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights is also continuing its hearings into the bill, given the seriousness of the measures.
A Radio 4 “File on Four” programme assesses some of the issues involved: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01jxrdf
On 28 June, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, Sami Al-Saadi and their families started legal proceedings in the high court in London against the British government, former foreign minister Jack Straw and former MI6 chief Mark Allen for their rendition to torture in Libya in 2004. Shortly thereafter, relations between the UK and Libya thawed and it was no longer considered a rogue state. Tony Blair visited Colonel Gaddafi personally and trade and diplomatic relations were resumed. According to papers found in Libya by Human Rights Watch last year, the CIA considered this “rendition” a joint UK/US operation. The families are suing the UK authorities for their involvement in their torture and rendition. This civil case is being brought alongside a current criminal investigation by the police. Belhaj and Al-Saadi have also initiated proceedings against other states.
The June “Shut Down Guantánamo!” demonstration was held on 7th June and was attended by 5 people. The July demonstration is exceptionally being held on WEDNESDAY 4 July at 12-2pm outside the US Embassy to mark US Independence Day: http://www.facebook.com/events/410685492303956/
The LGC held a vigil to mark International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention Against Torture in Trafalgar Square on Tuesday 26 June. Around 50 people attended and held up placards in different languages with one simple message: “No to Torture”. The vigil attracted attention from passers-by and the LGC was joined by different organisations and campaigns. The LGC thanks everyone who attended and helped in the preparation. There is a report of the event on our blog with links to other media about it and the anniversary: http://londonguantanamocampaign.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/london-says-no-to-torture-vigil-report.html