Britain 'working very hard' with US to close Guantanamo: PM
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
British Prime Minister David Cameron washes his hands before visiting a hospital ward, during a visit to the Royal Salford Hospital in north-west England, on January 6, 2012. AFP photoPrime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday that Britain was working "very hard" with the United States to help close Guantanamo Bay detention camp, on the tenth anniversary of its opening.
One British citizen, Shaker Aamer, remains in the prison on Cuba and the government has been pressing for his release, including at talks between Foreign Secretary William Hague and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in December.
A lawmaker raised Aamer's case at Cameron's weekly question and answer question in parliament and asked if the premier would commit to doing all he could to ensure 2012 is the last year that Guantanamo operates.
"The foreign secretary is working very hard with the United States to try and secure this issue and to bring this chapter to a close," Cameron said.
He also highlighted a settlement agreed in 2010 with 16 former Guantanamo inmates who alleged British involvement in their arrest and transfer to the camp, and an ongoing inquiry into those claims.
"We have taken steps as a government, as a country, to try and achieve some closure about what happened in the past by a settlement with those people who were in Guantanamo Bay, and also setting up a proper inquiry to make sure the British government was not complicit in any way in terms of torture to those people who were in Guantanano Bay or indeed elsewhere." Although they initially welcomed the British torture inquiry, rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have now boycotted the process, saying it is neither sufficiently credible nor transparent.
The groups have criticised the government's insistence on having the final say on what material is published, and its refusal to allow victims to test evidence from the security services.
At least 14 former Guantanamo inmates have been taken in by Britain and dozens more by European countries as US President Barack Obama seeks to fulfil his pledge to close the camp, opened in 2002 to house terror suspects.