OCTOBER 29, 2010: Has Guantanamo Bay Moved to Kampala?

Has Guantanamo Bay Moved to Kampala?

SOURCE: The Nation

By Gabriel Dolan

On November 21, 1974, two bombs exploded in the English midlands city of Birmingham, killing 21 people and seriously injuring 165 others.

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) admitted responsibility for the bombings while an irate public demanded the immediate arrest of the culprits.

Six Irishmen who had lived in the Birmingham area since the mid 1960s were promptly charged in court and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975.

They claimed innocence, but it took MP Chris Mullen and human rights lawyer Gareth Pierce several years to prove their case. On the third appeal in 1991 they were released on the grounds that the evidence produced in court was fabricated by the police while the genuine evidence had been suppressed.

The Birmingham Six were released after 16 years to global admiration amid critical condemnation of the British judiciary and anti-terrorism legislation.

On July 11 this year, 76 football fans were killed in two bomb blasts in the Ugandan capital Kampala. This time the Ugandan government felt the public outrage over the slaughter.

To date 38 have been charged in court. That number includes 13 Kenyan citizens who were abducted in Kenya and transferred to Uganda.

This illegal hand-over is currently referred to as 'renditions', the label emanating from the seizure of 'terrorist suspects' in one country and the transfer to Guantanamo Bay by the Bush administration in America.

Barack Obama had promised to shut down Guantanamo Bay as a detention centre but it would appear he is just relocating it to Kampala.

The Kampala attack was used as a pretext to haul in anyone that might be remotely linked to the war in terror.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua stated that there was a bilateral agreement between Kenya and Uganda to hand over suspects, but Justice Warsame ruled in the Nairobi High Court that 'an individual cannot be subjected to bilateral agreements in contravention of his basic fundamental rights'.

Last week, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo met Muslim leaders in Jamia Mosque and admitted that the renditions were illegal, suggesting that the 13 should be brought back and tried in Kenyan courts.

The renditions are in total violation of Articles 49 and 50 of the new Constitution that guarantees the right of an arrested person to a fair trial.

It would appear that these two articles do not apply to Muslim suspects.

It was unfortunate that the Justice minister should state his position in a mosque rather than in Parliament and regrettable that religious leaders of other faiths did not join hands with their Muslim brothers in condemning the renditions.

The false conviction of the Birmingham Six, together with the internment of hundreds of Irish youth, did not improve security. It just led to the radicalising of the young and increased recruitment to militant organisations.

Be assured that the contempt for the rule of law that these renditions have shown will lead to further recruitment by Al Shabaab and eventually result in more bomb attacks, maybe even here at home.

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