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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Statement on Guantanamo payouts due

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Ministers will make a written statement to Parliament over possible compensation for former detainees held at Guantanamo Bay

The Government is set to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation to former detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, it has been reported.

One former detainee is in line to receive more than £1 million after the Government agreed to settle a series of High Court actions brought by ex-Guantanamo prisoners and others, ITV News At Ten reported.

The Cabinet Office confirmed ministers would be making a written statement to Parliament updating MPs on the situation.

According to the ITV News report, the settlement followed negotiations held over the past few weeks at a secret location, with two QCs acting as independent arbiters.

David Cameron authorised the negotiations in July after a court ruling ordering the disclosure of confidential documents. With some 500,000 documents said to be involved, the Prime Minister said that vetting the material would absorb huge amounts of time for MI5 and MI6.

Among those said to be receiving settlements are Binyam Mohamed, Bishar Al Rawi, Jamil El Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Moazzam Begg and Martin Mubanga. Not all are British nationals, with some said to be asylum seekers.

Their allegations include claims that the Government knew they were being illegally transferred to Guantanamo Bay but failed to prevent it. There are also allegations that British security and intelligence officials colluded in their torture and abuse while they were held abroad.

The Cabinet Office said: “The Prime Minister set out clearly in his statement to the House on 6 July that we need to deal with the totally unsatisfactory situation where for ‘the past few years, the reputation of our security services has been overshadowed by allegations about their involvement in the treatment of detainees held by other countries’. The Government will lay a written ministerial statement, updating the House on progress.”

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said of the payments: “It’s not very palatable but there is a price to be paid for lawlessness and torture in freedom’s name. There are torture victims who were entitled to expect protection from their country.

“The Government now accepts that torture is never justified and we were all let down – let’s learn all the lessons and move on.”

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