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Guantanamo is Animal Farm, Sentamu says

02 November 2006

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 law."

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.

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