MP seeks law to combat defamation of last British resident in Guantanamo

February 14, 2013

As British resident Shaker Aamer marks 11 years in Guantanamo Bay, Caroline Lucas MP has tabled amendments to the government’s proposed Justice and Security Bill aiming to increase accountability of the security services.

It is eleven years today (February 14th) since British resident Shaker Aamer was taken to GuantanamoBay. Despite having been cleared for release under both the Bush and Obama administrations, he remains imprisoned. Shaker has never met his youngest son, who today will celebrate his eleventh birthday.

The UK government has repeatedly claimed that they want Shaker returned to the UK. Yet Shaker has told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, that UK agencies are still telling lies about him – lies which prevent him from being released. The defamation consists of untrue allegations and includes a picture of Shaker wearing normal Arabic clothes in London as proof of him being an extremist.

Caroline Lucas’ amendment to the government’s proposed Justice and Security Bill says that where a claim has been made to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) about actions of the secret services, which are false and which harm the individual being defamed, then the ISC will immediately investigate the claim and will also ensure that the misinformation is corrected.

Caroline Lucas MP, said: “The defamation of Shaker Aamer is evidence of the immense power of the security services to say whatever they want about an accused man, to devastating effect. Shaker has been cleared for release by the US government – twice – and yet remains in GuantanamoBay where he has been for eleven years, completely unable to defend himself.

“The failure of the British government to challenge this illegal incarceration is shameful and damaging – instead of pandering to the will of the US, it should be holding the security services properly to account and redoubling efforts to bring Shaker home.”

Reprieve’s Director, Clive Stafford Smith, said: “I saw Shaker in Guantanamo just last week, and while what he said remains classified, he remains a testament to human resilience, as his spirits remain high while his body crumbles around him. Surely after he has spent 11 years in that terrible prison without charges or trial, cleared for release for six years, he should be allowed home to London to meet his youngest child Faris for the first time.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. The full text of the amendment can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2012-2013/0099/amend/pbc0990702a.753-755.html