Straw criticises US over Guantanamo Bay

The Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has described as "unacceptable" the plight of the detaineesat Guantanamo Bay, who include four Britons.

The Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has described as "unacceptable" the plight of the detaineesat Guantanamo Bay, who include four Britons.

At a press conference to launch the Foreign Office's 2004 human rights report yesterday, Mr Straw said the Government had serious concerns about the conditions in which the detainees were being held, and their prospects for a fair trial.

With Tony Blair due to arrive in Washington tomorrow for two days of talks with President George Bush, Mr Straw criticised the US policy of holding about 600 terror suspects at its Camp Delta base in Cuba. Some have been there for several years.

Mr Straw said: "We have always made it clear, not only in respect of the British detainees, but generally, that we regard the circumstances and the conditions under which all those detainees are being held in Guantanamo Bay as unacceptable. That point has been made on many many occasions to the United States government."

The Britons being held at Camp Delta are Moazzam Begg, Feroz Abbasi, Richard Belmar and Martin Mubanga.

The US Supreme Court shocked the Pentagon and White House by ruling that the detainees have been illegally prevented from challenging their detention in the courts.

In a section on Guantanamo Bay, the human rights report said: "British officials have visited Guantanamo to check on British detainees' welfare eight times - more than any other government has done for its nationals. There have been complaints from some of the detainees.

"We have raised these with the US authorities, including at ministerial level and have been able to obtain some improvements in the conditions of the British detainees - for example, the exercise regime is now better. The US government is looking into other outstanding concerns we have about the conditions of detention of some of the remaining British detainees."

Mr Straw also called on the international community to expand the definition of human rights and to meet a "second challenge" from terrorists who attack "fundamental rights and values". He said national governments faced a new challenge "to fight those who recognise none of the values for which we stand, while remaining true to those values".

The report calls on the international community to expand the basis for armed intervention in the affairs of a sovereign state if there are human rights or humanitarian grounds to act.

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