On 31st December 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law. He claims to have done so because the Act was primarily setting a budget: the provisions added by Congress to the Act were verbally opposed by Obama before he signed the Act. But regardless of the signing President’s reservations, they now exist in US law.
This Act allows the US authorities to imprison civilians, without charge or trial, anywhere in the world:
The bill also contains provisions making it difficult to transfer suspects out of military detention, which prompted FBI Director Robert Mueller to testify that it could jeopardize criminal investigations. It also restricts the transfers of cleared detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries for resettlement or repatriation, making it more difficult to close Guantanamo, as President Obama pledged to do in one of his first acts in office. (ACLU)
Allowing people to be taken from the UK for indefinite detention without trial is probably already unlawful according to current UK extradition law. Regardless of how much the US promise they’ll treat their prisoners well.
The provisions – which were negotiated by a small group of members of Congress, in secret, and without proper congressional review – are inconsistent with fundamental American values embodied in the Constitution. Fundamental American values and fundamental freedoms are on the line.
Extradition is a matter for the Home Office. We cannot ask the UK government to make a legal ruling on another country’s law. We can ask, via epetition, for a clear statement by the House of Commons that there is no support in the British government for allowing the US to remove anyone from the UK under the provisions of this Act – British citizen, legal resident, not even a migrant labourer here illegally or an asylum-seeker whose legal status is undetermined. No one should be sent into indefinite detention without trial.
I suggest the wording of the epetition should be as follows:
Against Indefinite Imprisonment
Responsible Department: Home Office
Following the signing into US law of an Act giving US authorities legal power to imprison civilians indefinitely anywhere in the world, the Home Office should publish a clear statement that they will immediately require the transfer to British custody of any British citizen or legal resident of the UK who is imprisoned anywhere in the world under these powers of detention, and that no one within the UK will be transferred into US custody under the authorisation of this Act.
First draft. I’m very happy to take suggestions, comments, and revisions, but feel that it’s important for getting people to sign it that the epetition text remain as brief as possible. It’s impossible to add clarifying links.
The demand should be within what’s legally possible for a UK government department to do – it’s no use asking them to censure the US government for passing the law or to demand that they campaign against the passing the law.