UK government settles with 16 Guantanamo detainees over torture allegations

[JURIST] The UK government on Tuesday announced a settlement with 16 Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees over allegations of torture. Details of the settlement agreement, which are legally bound to a confidentiality agreement, have not been released, although at least seven detainees are expected to receive compensation, with at least one recieving over one million pounds [AP report]. In return, the 16 detainees—12 of whom had filed suit and four of whom were planning to—agreed to drop a lawsuit [JURIST report] against MI5 and M16 [official websites], Britain's domestic and overseas intelligence agencies, respectively. Although many of the detainees receiving settlement are British citizens, some are not and may be offered asylum as part of the settlement. At least one is still detained in Guantanamo Bay. Justice Secretary Kenneth Clark [official profile] made a statement to the House of Commons Tuesday afternoon, clarifying that the settlement was not an admission of guilt:


A joint statement [text] by the heads of M15 and M16, "welcome[d] the conclusion to the mediation which allows the agencies to concentrate on protecting national security." Prime Minister David Cameron [official website] is expected to comment on the settlement later Tuesday.

The British government has not shied away from the Guantanamo Bay controversy, launching an investigation into torture allegations in May, as well as ruling that state intelligence agencies cannot use secret evidence [JURIST reports] in their defense against abuse. This issue came up in the ongoing case of Binyam Mohamed [JURIST news archive], a British citizen formerly detained in Guantanamo Bay who is thought to be included in the settlement. Mohamed was returned to the UK in February 2009 after charges against him were dismissed [JURIST reports] in October 2008. Mohamed had been held at Guantanamo Bay for four years on suspicion of conspiracy to commit terrorism [JURIST report].

 

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