May 26, 2003
THE US has floated plans to turn Guantanamo Bay into a death camp, with its own death row and execution chamber.
Prisoners would be tried, convicted and executed without leaving its boundaries, without a jury and without right of appeal, The Mail on Sunday newspaper reported yesterday.
The plans were revealed by Major-General Geoffrey Miller, who is in charge of 680 suspects from 43 countries, including two Australians.
The suspects have been held at Camp Delta on Cuba without charge for 18 months.
General Miller said building a death row was one plan. Another was to have a permanent jail, with possibly an execution chamber.
The Mail on Sunday reported the move is seen as logical by the US, which has been attacked worldwide for breaching the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war since it established the camp at a naval base to hold alleged terrorists from Afghanistan.
But it has horrified human rights groups and lawyers representing detainees.
They see it as the clearest indication America has no intention of falling in line with internationally recognised justice.
The US has already said detainees would be tried by tribunals, without juries or appeals to a higher court. Detainees will be allowed only US lawyers.
British activist Stephen Jakobi, of Fair Trials Abroad, said: "The US is kicking and screaming against any pressure to conform with British or any other kind of international justice."
American law professor Jonathan Turley, who has led US civil rights group protests against the military tribunals planned to hear cases at Guantanamo Bay, said: "It is not surprising the authorities are building a death row because they have said they plan to try capital cases before these tribunals.
"This camp was created to execute people. The administration has no interest in long-term prison sentences for people it regards as hard-core terrorists."
Britain admitted it had been kept in the dark about the plans.
A Downing St spokesman said: "The US Government is well aware of the British Government's position on the death penalty."