British panel urges Guantanamo alternative

SUNDAY, JAN. 21, 2007

LONDON– A panel of British lawmakers urged the government today to work with the United States to develop an alternative to holding terror suspects at Guantanamo – aiming to speed up the closure of the much-criticized U.S. military prison.

The Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee released a report that also called for an overhaul of the Geneva Conventions and suggesting Prime Minister Tony Blair lead efforts to update the international standards to reflect the challenge of terrorism.

“The international community as a whole needs to shoulder its responsibility in finding a longer-term solution” to the indefinite detention of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo.

“We recommend that the government engage actively with the U.S. administration and with the international community to assist the process of closing Guantanamo as soon as may be consistent with the overriding need to protect the public from terrorist threats,” the report said.

About 395 foreign men currently held at Guantanamo are allegedly linked to al-Qaida or the Taliban. Human rights groups have condemned the U.S. for operating the prison, where most detainees have been held for years without being charged.

The committee called on Blair and his successor to help change the Geneva Convention that governs treatment of prisoners of war to “deal more satisfactorily with asymmetric warfare, with international combatants and with the status of irregular combatants.”


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