THE United States’ refusal to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay
reflected "a society that is heading towards George Orwell’s Animal
Farm", the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, said on Sunday.
He was speaking out in support of a UN report released last week. It
described the camp in Cuba, where 500 inmates are being held, as a centre of
torture and "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment". Kofi Annan, the UN
Secretary-General, said the camp must close "as soon as possible".
The Archbishop, writing in The Independent on Sunday, urged the UN Human
Rights Commission to take legal action against the US. He said it was against
international law to hold prisoners without trial. "If their guilt is beyond
doubt, why are the Americans afraid to bring them to trial?"
Archbishop Desmond Tutu described the camp as a stain on the character of
the US. "It is disgraceful," he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. "One cannot
find strong enough words to condemn what Britain and the United States and some
of their allies have accepted."
He said that under apartheid, as at Guantanamo, people were held for
"unconscionably long periods". The rule of law had been "subverted horrendously"
. The lack of public outcry, particularly in the US, was "saddening".
Dr Tutu also criticised Britain’s 28-day detention period for terror
suspects as excessive. As for Mr Blair’s attempt to hold terror suspects for up
to 90 days without charge: "Ninety days for a South African is an awful
déjà-vu, because we had in South Africa in the bad old days a 90-day detention
The US National Council of Churches (NCC) called on the US Government to
close the detention centre. The NCC general secretary, the Revd Dr Bob Edgar,
reiterated a request to be allowed to send a delegation.
Should the Guantanamo Bay camp be closed down?