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Guantanamo Bay

Volume 405: debated on Monday 19 May 2003

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Mr. Mike O'Brien)

British officials paid a fifth visit to Guantanamo Bay between 21–28 April 2003. The officials were from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Security Service.The purpose of the visit was to ask questions relevant to national security, to establish the identity and nationality of a detainee believed to be British and to check on the welfare of all UK detainees. The identity and British nationality of the detainee concerned was confirmed. There are therefore nine UK detainees in Guantanamo Bay. All were seen by the visiting officials.

The FCO official saw all the UK detainees individually. US officials observed all the meetings. The FCO official passed family messages and mail to the detainees and brought replies back to the UK which have now been passed to the detainees' families. Detainees are able to send and receive mail through the Camp authorities and ICRCA. Delivery can be slow.

The FCO official asked all the UK detainees about their health, medical and non-medical treatment, diet, accommodation, exercise and other Camp facilities with them.

The UK detainees appeared to be in sound physical health. The medical issues raised by them are being addressed by the Camp's medical services. The medical facilities available to the detainees are the same as those for US military personnel at Guantanamo Bay and are of a high standard.

Overall, the UK detainees thought the diet provided satisfactory though repetitive. The detainees continue to be housed in accommodation with individual sleeping, washing and toilet facilities. They continue to have access to exercise, to practice their religion and to an expanded collection of reading material, which continues to include the Koran and Bible.

The FCO official did not see or hear of mistreatment of UK detainees by the Camp authorities.

The visiting officials found the Camp authorities open and co-operative within limits dictated by security considerations.