HC Deb 04 March 2002 vol 381 cc69-70W
John Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on British detainees at Guantanamo Bay. [40764]

Mr. Bradshaw

A team of British officials paid a second visit to Guantanamo Bay between 26 February and 1 March. The purpose of the visit was to ask questions relevant to national security, to establish the identity and nationality of two British detainees transferred there in February and to check on the current welfare of all five British detainees. The British officials were from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Security Service.

The officials met the detainees individually. The meetings were held in the presence of US officials. The detainees appeared to be in satisfactory physical health, though two complained of minor ailments that are being addressed by the US authorities. None of the detainees complained of having been mistreated. At the time of the meetings with the detainees none was involved in the hunger strike reported in the camp.

British officials handed recent written letters from some of the detainees' families to the camp authorities to be passed to the detainees. Some of the detainees asked the officials to relay oral messages to their families. All the detainees confirmed that they had had the opportunity to write letters to their families through the camp authorities or through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

On the conditions in the camp, work is now in hand to provide indoor accommodation including individual sleeping and toilet facilities. Medical facilities now include a field hospital in addition to the clinic at Camp X-Ray itself. Exercise arrangements have also been enhanced. All detainees remain able to conduct their religious duties. They have copies of the Koran and have prayer caps and towels for use as prayer mats. Calls to prayer are broadcast throughout the camp.

The visiting team found the US camp authorities open and fully co-operative.

The ICRC continues to maintain a presence at Guantanamo Bay. It has access on demand to the detainees.

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