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US methods in Guantanamo likened to Idi Amin’s by Anglican cleric

Britain’s second ranking Anglican cleric, John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has compared detention methods used by the United States at Guantanamo to those used by deceased Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, and he says they are a blight on the conscience of America.

"In Uganda President Amin did something similar: he did not imprison suspects because he knew that in prison the law would apply to them, so he created special places to keep them. If the Guantanamo Bay detainees were on American soil, the law would apply. This is a breach of international law and blight on the conscience of America," said the Uganda-born bishop, who fled the Amin regime to Britain in 1977.

In a statement issued on 24 February Sentamu said: "This is not an anomaly. By ‘declaring war on terror’, President Bush is perversely applying the rules of engagement which apply in a war situation. But the prisoners are not being regularly visited by the Red Cross or Red Crescent, which is required by the Geneva convention. They were not even allowed to be interviewed by the United Nations Human Rights group."

Previously the Church of England archbishop had asked why, if the guilt of the prisoners was beyond doubt, were the Americans afraid to bring them to trial and asserted that the events of 9/11 cannot erase the rule of law.

Earlier in February, in a letter addressed to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the general secretary of the US National Council of Churches, Bob Edgar called his government to bring the detainees to trial, release them, or to "close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility without further delay". He also asked Rice for access to the Guantanamo facility "to monitor the physical, spiritual and mental conditions of the detainees".

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