Belmarsh – our own Guantanamo Bay


In the last issue we highlighted the plight of Bisher Al Rawi, a local man, resident here for 20 years, who was arrested on a trip abroad two years ago and is now held at Guantanamo Bay on extremely dubious grounds.  A protest is to be held in Kingston, on 29th January, after this issue goes to print, organised by Amnesty and attended by members of KPC.  The ‘war on terror’ is also undermining fundamental rights here in Britain, where suspects can be held without trial for an indefinite period.  Secretary Fred Ashmore wrote on this matter to our MP, Edward Davy, and we print his reply below. 






Mr Fred Ashmore 47 Lower Teddington Road Kingston SURREY

 December 1‑004 Our Ref AshmOO 1 1 11‑o

RE: Belmarsh Prison


Thank you for your recent letter regarding the above matter. I am sorry, for the long delay In replying. but‑ as the Law Lords have just recently ruled that the detention of terror suspects without trial breaches human rights laws‑ I hope I am now in a position to provide you with a full update on this case.


The House of Lords, the highest court in the land, has categorically concluded that the current government legislation on this issue is flawed, and‑ indeed‑ fundamentally wrong. In summing up. Lord Hoffman said 'the real threat to the life of the nation comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these.' Unfortunately, as the House of Lords does not have primacy over the executive it is up to the government to decide how to proceed.

The Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose the Government on these measures, and in the light of the recent ruling, we will be pushing for a full explanation of how they propose to put right the wrong of holding people without trial. In 2001 warnings were repeatedly issued to the government that these measures would be illegal, but chose to ignore them. They now have no choice and have promised to study the judgement carefully towards the possibility of modifying it.

I can assure you that I am fully opposed to the detaining of prisoners without trial and believe it to be an assault on the basic principles of justice. I will continue to assist my Liberal Democrat colleagues in pushing for a change in this law‑ and, in particular, in allowing the use of intercept communications as evidence in criminal cases.

Thank you, once again, for writing to me on this issue and my apologies for the delay in replying. If you have any further comments, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Davey MP [Kingston & Surbiton, Liberal Democrat]