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UK to pay ex-Guantanamo detainees
Minister says former inmates who accused UK security forces of complicity in their torture will receive compensation.
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2010 17:59 GMT
The British government is expected to pay over $1.6m in compensation to former prisoners [EPA]

The British government is to compensate former detainees in the Guantanamo Bay military detention facility in Cuba who accused UK security forces of being complicit in their torture overseas.

Ken Clarke, the British justice minister, said on Tuesday that the government had "agreed a
mediated settlement of the civil damages claims" but that the details would remain confidential.

"No admissions of culpability have been made in settling these cases nor have any of the claimants withdrawn their allegations," he added.

It is believed that the government decided it was better to settle with compensation rather than risk the release of secret documents during any open court case.

Media reports suggested that the claims could see one prisoner receive more than $1.6m.

The move comes after former detainees Bisher al-Rawi, Jamil el Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Binyam Mohamed, Martin Mubanga all took action against the government, and the High Court ordered the release of 500,000 related documents in July.

'Price to be paid'

In February, a British court released secret evidence that Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born resident of Britain, had been subjected to "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment during questioning by US
agents.

Experts have said the government was keen to avoid a costly court case and the settlement was finally agreed after weeks of negotiations, with two lawyers acting as independent adjudicators.

Paul Brennan, Al Jazeera's correspondent in London, said that details of the settlement will "probably never be known".

"It is going to be an intrinsic part of the agreement, we understand, that there will be confidentiality," he said. 

Shami Chakrabarti, director of campaign group Liberty, said news of the compensation was "not very palatable but there is a price to be paid for lawlessness and torture in freedom's name.

"There are torture victims who were entitled to expect protection from their country.

"The government now accepts that torture is never justified and we were all let down - let's learn all the lessons and move on," she said.

In July this year David Cameron, the prime minister, announced an inquiry into claims that UK security services were complicit in the torture of suspects on foreign soil after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The inquiry is due to start before the end of 2010 and is expected to report within 12 months.

Source:
Agencies
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