Guantanamo Bay, Kangaroo Courts - Letter to The Guardian
15th August 2003
One could not agree more with your leader (Rights are Indivisible, The Guardian, 14th August 2003) as well as with the 200 MPs who have rightly described the proposed trial of the two Guantanamo Bay British detainees as 'kangaroo courts.' Without revisiting the larger constitutional and legal implications of the issue which you have so eloquently spelled out, let me simply add that it all boils down to an unprecedented farce.
On the one hand, President Bush is reportedly willing to send over two of the British detainees, Moazzam Beg and Feroz Abbasi, for trial in Britain provided, however, that regardless of their innocence or guilt, they should be convicted. On the other hand it is yet more strange to discover that Prime Minister Tony Blair does not want them home to face the law. This is because the advice he apparently has from his law officers and the Home Secretary is that the US case against these detainees would not hold the test of British justice and they will almost certainly be acquitted. His obligation in this case was to take a stand and refuse what is basically an illegal and unjust demand. Instead he would rather have them convicted by an American Kangaroo Court than let them be found not guilty by a British Court.
It is really impossible to make sense of such a policy.
The MCB has already been speaking to the relevant government departments and has also sought a meeting with the Attorney General. However, the exercise so far seems to be basically aimed at obtaining some perfunctory and procedural concessions in order ostensibly to assuage the British conscience. It would not, because the very process is palpably unjust and wrong. It would make it more so and not less, if the detainees had to, as it has been reported, plead guilty in return of some leniency.
We hold no brief for any of the detainees in Gunatanamo Bay. We are not sure if there was any Foreign Office travel advice at the time against visiting Afghanistan.Certainly they were ill advised to tread into a wrong place at a wrong time.
We, therefore, believe that the British Government should take a principled stand in accordance with the norms of natural justice and international law. There is no other option except either to bring them to trial here in Britain or free them if there was no case against them.
Iqbal AKM Sacranie OBE
The Muslim Council of Britain
London E15 1NT