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Minute in Support of the United Nation's Recommendation to Close the Prison at Guantánamo Bay - 7/2006

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Chatham-Summit Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) believes that the U.S. should close the prison at Guantánamo Bay. Furthermore, we support the actions recommended in Article 22 of the UN Committee Against Torture’s Conclusions and Recommendations, released May 19, 2006. That Article states:

22. The Committee, noting that detaining persons indefinitely without charge, constitutes per se a violation of the Convention, is concerned that detainees are held for protracted periods at Guantánamo Bay, without sufficient legal safeguards and without judicial assessment of the justification for their detention. (articles 2, 3 and 16)

The State party [i.e., United States] should cease to detain any person at Guantánamo Bay and close this detention facility, permit access by the detainees to judicial process or release them as soon as possible, ensuring that they are not returned to any State where they could face a real risk of being tortured, in order to comply with its obligations under the Convention.

In its Conclusions and Recommendations, the UN Committee Against Torture acknowledges that the U.S. “is engaged in protecting its security and the security and freedom of its citizens in a complex legal and political context.” Nonetheless, the Committee has determined that detaining persons at the prison at Guantánamo Bay violates international law and the Convention Against Torture, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1984, and signed by the U.S. on April 18, 1988. Chatham-Summit Monthly Meeting concurs.

As Quakers, we believe that detaining persons without access to legal processes fails to honor their human dignity, violates their human rights, and creates unconscionable mental suffering. This position has its foundations in the Quaker belief that there is that of God in every person. In our Faith and Practice, Friends are “…enjoined to have a deep concern for the welfare of the community. This involves intelligent care for the dignity and welfare of all...” Further, “History has shown that when a future outcome, however noble, seems of greater worth than the human being before us, any means, any atrocity, is possible.” (New York Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice, 1998, pp. 50, 52)

We support the UN Committee's recommendation, quoted above, and urge the U.S., a signatory to the Convention Against Torture, to comply promptly.

Adopted July 2006