The actions of Jamal Al Harith should not bring on a security state

London – Amidst the shock at the news that British citizen Jamal Al Harith detonated a car bomb at an Iraqi army base, CAGE reaffirms that this horrific incident should not be used to justify further torture and arbitrary detention.

While it is vital to examine what led him to take this path, there should be no question that calling for his release from torturous conditions and paying him a settlement were the right and ethical things to do at the time.

The out of court settlement was only agreed when the government was required to disclose damning documents that would prove their complicity in the false imprisonment and torture of the British former Guantanamo detainees.

The victims of torture should not be made to feel ashamed for receiving a settlement and indeed the vast majority of ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees have attempted to rebuild their lives peacefully, often with very little support.

Despite being cleared of all charges against them, several have experienced varying degrees of harassment from the authorities, closing of bank accounts, stops at airports and continuous unwanted media attention and surveillance.

Ibrahim Mohamoud, spokesperson for CAGE, said:

“As a nation we have passed on average nearly one piece of anti-terror legislation every other year since the year 2000. We need a serious level of introspection to examine the impact of these laws on community relations and especially public safety. We therefore welcome the readiness of the new Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation to recommend the abolishment of unnecessary laws and offences “introduced in knee-jerk reaction” to terror attacks.”

“It is difficult to prevent every single committed individual from taking the path that Al Harith did, however many powers we afford to the authorities. While there is a need for necessary safeguards to protect the public, there must also be a balance in law that prevents excessive state intrusion, in line with the principles of justice, and a free society. We cannot allow isolated incidents to become the tool of those who seek to further the security state.”

“The UK does not require more laws and more powers, when these have only alienated and disenfranchised communities. Rather, we need more dialogue, more openness and greater understanding of one another.”


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.