Guantanamo must be closed sooner or later: Annan
* Says detainees must be given a chance to explain themselves
* Tony Blair calls Guantanamo ‘an anomaly’
UNITED NATIONS: UN chief Kofi Annan on Thursday called for the early closure of the US “war on terror” detention center in Guantanamo Bay as a report charged detainees there had been abused.
“I think sooner or later there will be a need to close Guantanamo,” Annan told reporters at UN headquarters. “It will be up to the (US) government to decide hopefully to do it as soon as possible.”
The report by UN Human Rights Commission monitors in Geneva stated that the detention facility for terror suspects at the US naval base in Cuba should be closed and that inmates there had been abused. “There’s a lot in the report and I cannot say I necessarily agree with everything (in it),” the UN secretary general said.
“But the basic point that one cannot detain individuals in perpetuity and that charges have to be brought against them and (they must) be given a chance to explain themselves and (be) prosecuted, charged or released.”
“I think is something that is common under any legal system,” he said. Washington has angrily rejected the recommendations by the five independent experts acting as monitors for the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Commission.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in Berlin on Friday that he stood by his position that the US prison in Guantanamo Bay was “an anomaly” which would have to be resolved.
“It is an anomaly that sooner or later has got to be dealt with,” he told a press conference after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
Blair made an almost identical statement to the British parliament in November last year, but stopped short of calling for the closure of the notorious detention centre.
Earlier, one of Tony Blair’s senior cabinet ministers on Thursday called for the United States to shut down its Guantanamo Bay detention camp for non-American terrorism suspects.
“I would prefer that wasn’t there. I would prefer it was closed, yes,” said Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain on a BBC television public affairs question-and-answer programmeme.
Asked if it was the British government’s view that Guantanamo should be shut down, he replied: “That’s what I think.”
When asked whether the prime minister - a strong ally of US President George W Bush in the campaign against global terrorism - agreed with him, he said: “I think so, yes.” Hain is believed to be the first minister explicitly to call for the closure of the US detention camp, opened in 2002 to hold suspects seized during the Afghanistan war. afp