Methodist Church welcomes call to release Guantanamo detainees

The Methodist Church have welcomed the UK Government'sdecision to request the return of five former British residentsbeing held in Guantanamo Bay. The announcement overturns theprevious refusal of the UK Government to intervene in theircase.

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

Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Secretary for International Affairs,says, "This is great news and we hope that these five people can bereturned to the UK soon. Most of the British residents detained atGuantanamo have been there for five years now and we are concernedfor their mental health and general well-being. Their continueddetention has placed stress on their families in the UK. Theirimprisonment without due legal process is an unacceptable violationof their rights.

"We continue to be deeply concerned about Guantanamo Bay and wouldlike to see it closed. We appreciate the need for adequate securitymeasures but these must not violate fundamental humanrights."