World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Statement on Detainees at Guantanamo Bay

22 February 2005

WCC Central Committee, Geneva, 15-22 February, 2005

All human beings regardless of race, sex or belief have been created by God as
individuals and in one human community. "Everyone is entitled in full equality
to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal in the determination
of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him."
(Article 11 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights)

The Central Committee is therefore deeply concerned by the continued unconscionable
and illegal detention of over 600 foreign nationals, mostly Muslims, at
the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The detainees have been held without due
process and in total violation of the norms and standards of international humanitarian
and human rights law including the provisions of the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which the US ratified in 1992.

The US Government has denied detainees the scrutiny of their cases by courts of
law in the US on grounds that "they are being held under the President's authority
as Commander in Chief and under the laws and usages of war". Also they are
"aliens with no connection to the US being held outside sovereign US territory".

These grounds of detention undermine the universal principles of jurisprudence
and are in violation of the fundamental rights of the detainees.

We are therefore encouraged by the actions of the NCCC-USA that has joined voices
with other human rights, legal and religious non-governmental organizations
in an amicus curiae brief filed in the US Supreme Court. The NCCC-USA's request
to visit the detainees at Guantanamo Bay on a pastoral and humanitarian basis was
denied by the government. The NCCC-USA remains committed to the struggle
for justice and rule of law and continues to monitor the situation as some of the
cases of the detainees are being litigated under the US judicial system.

The Central Committee meeting in Geneva, February 15-22, 2005:

Urges the US Government immediately to grant legal rights accorded to detainees
as outlined in the amicus curiae brief to which the NCCC-USA, together with
other national and international non- governmental organizations, is a party;

Appeals to the US Government to let NCCC-USA fulfill its pastoral and humanitarian
responsibilities to the detainees by giving it permission to visit them at
Guantanamo Bay;

And calls on the churches to:

Appreciate and encourage the important work being done by the NCCC-USA
in its endeavours to struggle for the rule of law and secure due process for those
detained at Guantanamo Bay;

Educate and conscientize their congregations to the situation of those presently
under detention in Guantanamo Bay and to fulfill their responsibility as a community
of faith in Christ by calling for the release of those being held in detention
under inhuman conditions;

Calls on member churches to pray for the just and fair treatment and trials of
those under detention and for their families.