[JURIST] United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile] has called for the United States to close its Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detention facility as soon as possible, reiterating the conclusions of a 54 page report [PDF text; press release] released Thursday by a UN-appointed independent panel. Annan said:
There is a lot in the report, and I cannot say that I necessarily agree with everything in the report. But the basic point, that one cannot detain individuals in perpetuity and that charges have to be brought against them and be given a chance to explain themselves, and be prosecuted, charged or released, I think is something that is common under any legal system. And I think sooner or later there will be a need to close Guantanamo. I think it will be up to the government to decide, and hopefully to do it as soon as is possible.The report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention accused the United States of torturing inmates and denying prisoners access to justice, and urged American authorities to try prisoners in courts independent from Guantanamo Bay or release them and close the camp immediately. The US has already dismissed out of hand [JURIST report] the panel's findings and recommendations.
The UN experts' call for closure has also received widespread support from the European Parliament [official website], Amnesty International [official website], and human rights activists. UK Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain [official profile] Thursday become the first British cabinet minister to publicly call for the closing [Telegraph report] of the prison, saying in a BBC interview that although important information has been obtained from suspects at the facility regarding terrorist activities, he has always been uncomfortable with its existence. He also said he believes British Prime Minister Tony Blair [official profile] shares his opinion. AP has more. In a news conference in Berlin Friday after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Blair referred to the prison facility as an "anomaly" that must be "dealt with" but fell short of calling for its closure. A spokesman for Merkel said that the camp "did not conform with our legal understanding." DPA has more.