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Guantanamo Bay

Volume 687: debated on Monday 11 December 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why they will not make an exception to the general policy of not assisting non-British nationals in the case of the former British residents held for a long time without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay; and whether they have made an assessment of the effect that offering to accept the return of some or all of these detainees might have on the early closure of the detention centre. [HL370]

It is the long-standing policy of the British Government not to offer consular assistance to non-British nationals, except in cases where a specific agreement to do so exists with another state. A recent Court of Appeal judgment in a judicial review application brought by some of the detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility who were formally resident in the UK confirmed that there is no duty on my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, in domestic or international law, to make the formal request for release and return from Guantanamo Bay sought by those detainees. In these proceedings, the Government’s assessment was that the US Government would be very likely to resist any request for the release of the claimants, and that lobbying would make it more difficult for the UK to engage with the US on wider issues of detainee policy, including our wish to see the Guantanamo Bay detention facility closed.