Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Britain has released a prisoner from it's "mini-Guantanamo". While it's great that he's been released - imprisonment without charge cannot be justified - it also underlines the essentially arbitrary nature of the internment process:

D was among the first foreigners to be held under the emergency measures passed within weeks of the 11 September atrocities, and has been in prison since 17 December 2001. Just 11 weeks ago D was being described by an independent commission as a terrorist supporter and a threat to national security, yet the Home Office was unable to reveal why he was now a free man.

What changed? The government will not say. But this refusal taints the entire process, leading to either a suspicion that they have unjustifiably imprisoned an innocent man for the past three years on dubious secret evidence, or that they have released a still-dangerous terrorist. This underscores the need for open justice. Suspected terrorists must be charged, rather than simply imprisoned, and tried in ordinary courts under ordinary standards of evidence. Otherwise, we can have no faith in the verdict.