U.K. Foreign Secretary: Detentions at Gitmo Unacceptable

The detention of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay is unacceptable and counterproductive, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said Thursday, underlining an increasingly critical British line on the U.S.-run prison.

Beckett, releasing Britain's annual report on human rights around the world, said that detention without trial of hundreds of suspects was "unacceptable in terms of human rights" and "ineffective in terms of counterterrorism."

The report called for the camp to be closed and said Britain welcomes President Bush's statement that the he hopes to see the camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, shut down.

Prime Minister Tony Blair so far has gone no further in public than calling the camp an "anomaly" which sooner or later must end.

But two senior legal officials, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith and Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, spoke out against the U.S. detention policy earlier this year.

In June, Falconer had denounced the detention center in eastern Cuba as a "recruiting agent" for terrorism, and described its existence as "intolerable and wrong."

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In a speech in Washington last month, Falconer said the U.S. policy of "deliberately seeking to put the detainees beyond the reach of the law" was a "shocking ... affront to the principles of democracy."

Falconer said that was the British government's view, not simply his own opinion.

Goldsmith said in May that "the existence of Guantanamo Bay remains unacceptable."

In last year's report, Britain said improved international human rights would help undermine the propaganda and recruiting efforts of terrorist groups.

However, civil rights groups have criticized the Blair administration's own attitude toward human rights, claiming it has been complicit in the use of secret CIA prisons, the existence of which were acknowledged by Bush in September.

Blair's government has also denied accusations it has allowed the U.S. to use British airports to conduct so-called extraordinary rendition flights, allegedly used to ferry prisoners to and from the secret prisons.