Ghailani warning to UK over torture

Sun 21 Nov 2010 19.05 EST

The case of former Guantánamo Bay detainee Ahmed Ghailani (Report, 18 November) should sound a warning to British authorities. Ghailani was convicted of only one charge and acquitted of more than 280 others after a key witness was banned from testifying because his evidence had been obtained by torture. This should not be seen as a failure, but proof that successful convictions can be obtained without the use of torture. The case of Ghailani shows exactly why interrogations must be carried out in accordance with human rights laws. British courts have a tradition of excluding evidence obtained by torture. If British intelligence personnel are not operating in an environment that reflects these standards, any evidence obtained via such means will fall at the final hurdle in the courts. The EHRC recently started judicial review proceedings after writing to the prime minister expressing concern that the government's guidance on torture for intelligence personnel working in the field did not meet international standards.

Professor Geraldine Van Bueren

Equality and Human Rights Commission

• Criticism of the case of Ahmed Ghailani seems to exhibit the same distaste for the rule of law that gave rise to Guantánamo in the first place. Many men still languish there; some awaiting trial, some cleared for release, but with no country to go to. These men should either be afforded due process, or released. To assist in achieving the prison's closure, the UK should follow other European countries and afford shelter to those innocent men with no other country to go to.

Christine MacLeod

London Guantánamo Campaign