Clive Stafford Smith: Guantanamo Bay prisoners have a right to fair trial

From the Butterworths' lecture by the human rights lawyer, given at Queen Mary College, University of London
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The politics of hatred is affecting the American judiciary system, in particular those detained in Guantanamo Bay.

The politics of hatred is affecting the American judiciary system, in particular those detained in Guantanamo Bay.

Guantanamo Bay is a closed legal system. Nobody has access to the 680 detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, except for the one human rights lawyer who has been given permission to represent those convicted.

These detainees will not be given fair trials by the American judiciary - there will be no appeals process if they lose - nor the right to compensation if they are found innocent.

A Guantanamo Bay prosecutor recently admitted that up to 30 per cent of those detained may be innocent. If a prosecution lawyer is admitting to 30 per cent, then I believe the figure to be much higher.

Hypocrisy is the yeast of hatred that makes hatred ferment upwards. The US government is determined to undermine the disadvantaged; to encourage people to hate those who cannot help themselves. I worked with death row prisoners for years because I despise the notion that we should pick on people who cannot defend themselves. It is such a joy to have the opportunity to use the power that you have as a lawyer to help people who really need it.

The US government must take responsibility for its actions and try the Guantanamo Bay detainees in a fair, equitable and open judiciary system. Levelling the playing field for people who are hated is a wonderful experience, and it can only be hoped that the field be levelled for those being detained in Guantanamo Bay.

Comments