Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Guantanamo: change we can believe in

For the past seven years, the US has detained hundreds of suspected terrorists without trial in its Caribbean gulag in Guantanamo Bay. Now, with the election of a new US President, that looks set to change:

Barack Obama will move swiftly to close Guantanamo Bay as soon as he takes office, his aides revealed yesterday, a clear and early sign of how aggressively he wants to break with President Bush the moment he is sworn in.

Mr Obama is planning to ship dozens of terror suspects from the prison to face criminal trial in the US as part of a plan to shut the jail down.

This is what the human rights movement has been asking for all along: a fair trial, in a proper court, under ordinary laws and standards of evidence. Many detainees will undoubtedly go free - most lack any credible evidence against them, while the case against others will have been poisoned by prosecutorial misconduct and torture. But some will be able to be tried, and if convicted, punished.

The question now is whether the detainees will see those trials, or whether the Bush Administration will render them all at the last minute in an effort to prevent justice. I guess we have until January 20th to find out.