What to do with detainees?

Posted: November 20, 2008 in International Herald Tribune
Tags: ,

A rather more modest contribution today, in the form of a letter in today’s International Herald Tribune, also since they chose to cut my initial text down, I am using this opportunity to publish the whole thing after the jump for those interested in reading the whole thing.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/19/opinion/edlet.php

(and here is the article I was referring to: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/18/opinion/edmassimino.php)

Elisa Massimino forgets to mention that many Guantánamo detainees cannot go home for fear of reprisals or punishment by their home government. The case of the Chinese Uighurs is the best example of this.

Furthermore, what about those who have been involved in terrorist activity, but have also been tortured in Guantánamo, rendering evidence collected against them or others they have implicated problematic in U.S. courts? Are they to be turned loose? Maybe yes – they have been punished enough – but where would they be released?

Raffaello Pantucci, London

Dear Editor,
 
There is much to commend in Elisa Massimino’s cry to close Guantanamo. The off-shore detention center has been a blight on America’s pronouncements about fighting for a just world. But at the same time, she forgets one crucial detail in not mentioning those who cannot go home for fear of reprisals or punishment by their mother government. The case of the Chinese Uighurs caught on the battlefield is the best example of this, where some have been cleared of any involvement, but cannot go home and will not be accepted elsewhere for fear of incuring the wrath of the Chinese government. Furthermore, what about those who have been involved in terrorist activity, but have also been tortured, rendering evidence collected against them or others they have implicated problematic in US courts. Are they simply to be turned loose? Maybe yes, they have been punished enough – but where would they be released? Their mother countries may be less discerning about the provinence of information and it would be a politically risky if not toxic to simply let them into the US.
 
Ultimately, it is these sorts of awkward questions that have prevented anything being done thus far on closing Guantanamo. At root it is the product of the initial clumsy declaration of war, but at the same time, the realities it has created will take much effort to undo – and the baggage attached to the Bush White House meant they could never do it. Let us hope that President Obama will be able to direct some of his voluminous international political capital towards making some bold decisions on this key issue.
 
Best
 
Raffaello Pantucci
London, UK

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