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Rumsfeld rejects UN call to close Guantanamo

[JURIST] In comments after a speech [text] at the Council on Foreign Relations [policy center website] Friday, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld flatly rejected the United Nation's call [JURIST report] for the US to shut down its military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], asserting that the facility currently holds several hundred terrorists who would pose a substantial security risk to US citizens if released. Rumsfeld's statements echoed Thursday comments by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan dismissing [JURIST report] the UN study containing the recommendation. The UN's call came after special rapporteurs working for the UN Commission on Human Rights [official website] issued a scathing report [PDF text] alleging that American authorities working at the facility engaged in practices that "amount to torture." Rumsfeld also chided UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for supporting the UN report, arguing that Annan had no first-hand knowledge of Guantanamo, and had based his criticism of the facility on stories by detainees who are "trained to lie." AP has more.

Worldwide calls to close the prison have nonetheless continued. The British press Saturday reported comments by UK governmental and religious leaders roundly criticizing US detention practices at the Cuba camp. English Attorney General Lord Goldsmith [official profile] told the BBC that the military tribunals under which suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay are to be tried would not amount to a fair trial "by standards we would regard as acceptable." The number-two cleric in the Church of England, Archbishop of York John Sentamum, meanwhile told the Independent newspaper that "The American Government is breaking international law" and called on the UN Human Rights Commission to take legal action against the US either in the United States or through the Hague-based International Court of Justice if it takes no actions following the report. The Independent has more.

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