Falconer: Guantanamo 'an affront to democracy'

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The Independent Online

The Lord Chancellor will denounce the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba as a "shocking affront to the principles of democracy" in a speech due to be delivered today.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton is expected to voice the most outspoken criticism of American anti-terror policy yet made by a senior minister, in a keynote speech to an audience of Australian senators, MPs, judges and academics at the Supreme Court in Sydney.

"It is a part of the acceptance of the rule of law that the courts will be able to exercise jurisdiction over the executive," Lord Falconer will say.

"It is because of that principle that the USA deliberately seeking to put the detainees beyond the reach of the law in Guantanamo Bay is so shocking an affront to the principles of democracy. Without independent judicial control, we cannot give effect to the essential values of our society."

He will make the comments in the Magna Carta Lecture, delivered annually in Australia by senior British legal figures.

It will be the second time that Lord Falconer has criticised Guantanamo, where 450 terror suspects are thought to be detained. In June hecalled the base a "recruiting agent" for terrorism, and described its existence as "intolerable and wrong".

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, has described it as "unacceptable" and called for its closure. Tony Blair has been more muted, calling it an "anomaly".