13th Apr 2024

US court backs European criticism of Guantanamo

When US president George W. Bush met EU leaders in Vienna last week, he was already well aware of the European concerns of the Guantanamo Bay prison and chose to open talks on the topic himself.

"I'd like to end Guantanamo. I'd like it to be over with," he said at the time.

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And on Thursday (29 June) the US Supreme Court backed European criticism when ruling that the use of military commissions to try prisoners is unconstitutional and against the Geneva Conventions.

The ruling was welcomed by European politicians.

"I welcome that President Bush will realise what he announced in Vienna, i.e. to close the camp as soon as possible," said the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament, Elmar Brok (EPP-ED).

Member of the Human Rights Sub Committee in the European Parliament, UK liberal Liz Lynne praised the court's decision and said the only real step now left to Mr Bush is to shut down the camp. "The fight against terror cannot be fought by undermining basic human rights."

Ms Lynne and other liberals underlined that the verdict also shows that the system of democratic checks and balances in the US continues to function.

According to the Financial Times, Gijs de Vries, the EU's anti-terrorism co-ordinator will say in a speech later today (30 June) that Guantanamo Bay, together with the scandal over Abu Ghraib prison and the CIA's practice of renditions, "have damaged America's standing in the world and have compromised our common struggle against terrorism".

At present 450 prisoners are being held at the prison.

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