US releases Pakistanis from torture camp

The US released on Saturday as many as 13 Pakistani prisoners detained at the controversial prison known as Camp X-Ray in Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay, US officials said.

    Prisoners at Camp X-Ray were kept in open cages

    This takes the number of Pakistanis released from the Cuban detention centre to 17 since the end of 2001. Some 44 remain accused of being allied to the Afghanistan’s deposed Taliban regime and Al-Qaeda.

    Thousands of Pakistanis went to Afghanistan to fight against US forces at the start of the US-led war to oust the Taliban regime.

    Prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are classed as illegal combatants and are denied access to legal representation. They are held without charge, refused their basic human rights as guaranteed under the Geneva Convention, and will likely face trial by a military tribunal.

    If found guilty they could face the death penalty.

    Two British citizens, arrested in Afghanistan and kept in open air cages in Cuba since their detention, are due to stand trial before a military court, the US State Department said earlier this month.

    Treatment of prisoners on the US base on the Caribbean island has aroused the ire of lawmakers throughout Europe and from Australia to Bahrain.

    In the UK, a parliamentary petition signed by 218 legislators, from the ruling Labour as well as the opposition Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, says Prime Minister Tony Blair should use his leverage with the US "to arrange for the repatriation of British detainees to face a fair trial in Britain.''

    Human rights groups in the US have also protested against plans to try detainees in closed courts. 

    The president of the US National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers (NACDL) Lawrence Goldman, criticised the tribunal set-up saying there would be no confidentiality between lawyers and clients - held to be a basic tenet of legal representation.

    This will make it virtually impossible for a trial to be fair, according to Goldman. The NACDL president told ABC radio that the US administration had made it clear all conversations between detainees and their lawyers would be recorded.

    As many as 670 people remain in Cuba. They are being held in Camp X-Ray and Camp Delta. Many have attempted suicide.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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