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Guantanamo Bay

Volume 456: debated on Monday 29 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the indefinite detention of British residents in Guantanamo Bay on the UK’s foreign relations. (111488)

Indefinite detention of detainees in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, regardless of their nationality or place of former residence, is a matter of concern to us, on human rights grounds rather than for its effect on our relations with other states. As we have made clear, the detention facility should be closed. We therefore welcome President Bush’s public statements expressing a wish to close Guantanamo Bay and the US Administration’s efforts to reduce numbers at the camp. But we recognise the need for careful consideration on how numbers at the camp are reduced to ensure international security is maintained and the human rights of detainees respected.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations she has made to the US Administration asking for the immediate release of British residents who remain detained in Guantanamo Bay. (111696)

It is long-standing policy that the Government are not in a position to provide consular assistance or diplomatic protection to foreign nationals, including those held at Guantanamo Bay, except where we have a specific agreement with another state to do so.

We discuss a range of detainee issues, including Guantanamo Bay, with the US Administration but our focus is on the situation of all detainees at Guantanamo, including those formerly resident in the UK. We have raised humanitarian issues relating to detainees who were formerly resident in the UK with the US on a number of occasions, as part of these regular exchanges.

We agreed in March 2006 to make representations to the US Government for the release of Bisher Al-Rawi from Guantanamo Bay and his return to the UK. That decision was based on the particular circumstances in his case. On 6 April 2006 my right hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary (Mr. Straw) wrote to the US Secretary of State to ask formally for Mr. Al-Rawi’s release and return. Detailed discussions between our Governments have continued ever since. While these are sensitive and complicated issues that take time, we are committed to securing Mr. Al-Rawi’s release from Guantanamo Bay and his return to the UK.