09 August 2007

Methodist Church welcomes call to release Guantanamo detainees

The Methodist Church have welcomed the UK Government's decision to request the return of five former British residents being held in Guantanamo Bay. The announcement overturns the previous refusal of the UK Government to intervene in their case.

The Methodist Church is gravely concerned about the continued use of Guantanamo Bay to hold people without due legal process. At the beginning of July, the Methodist Church, the Church of England and the Catholic Bishops' Conference in England and Wales wrote to the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, urging her to allow the return to the UK of eight former British residents detained at Guantanamo Bay including those named in yesterday's statement from the Government. The letter was signed by the Revd Graham Carter (the former President of the Methodist Conference), the Rt Revd Tom Butler (Bishop of Southwark) and the Rt Revd William Kenney (Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham).

Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Secretary for International Affairs, says, "This is great news and we hope that these five people can be returned to the UK soon. Most of the British residents detained at Guantanamo have been there for five years now and we are concerned for their mental health and general well-being. Their continued detention has placed stress on their families in the UK. Their imprisonment without due legal process is an unacceptable violation of their rights.

"We continue to be deeply concerned about Guantanamo Bay and would like to see it closed. We appreciate the need for adequate security measures but these must not violate fundamental human rights."

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