Great Britain's Payout to Guantanamo Detainees

Great Britain has decided to pay millions to 16 detainees at Guantanamo (one of whom, Shaker Aamer, is still there) to settle lawsuits alleging British intelligence officers were complicit in their torture, rather than battle them in court.

"The alternative to any payments made would have been protracted and extremely expensive litigation in an uncertain legal environment in which the government could not be certain that it would be able to defend Departments and the Security and Intelligence Agencies without compromising national security.

"This cost was estimated at approximately £30-50m over 3-5 years and in our view there could have been no inquiry until that litigation had been resolved."

The amount is secret but reported by several sources to be in the millions. Here's a list of the detainees, which includes Binyam Mohammed, Moazzam Begg and Omar Deghayes. [More...]

Settlement became preferable after a judge ruled the evidence would not be presented in secret. No way does Britain want public disclosures of the dirty deeds.

A judicial inquiry into the alleged misconduct will continue, but these detainees won't be calling for public disclosure of documents, which apparently is a big deal.

It paves the way for a judge-led inquiry into complicity and rendition. That inquiry will soon go about its business but the main accusers won't be appearing in public demanding the exposure of a secret paper trail from Afghanistan to government offices in London.

Paying out millions looks bad, but ministers know that exposing state secrets is worse still.

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    Don't both parties agree? (none / 0) (#1)
    by diogenes on Wed Nov 17, 2010 at 09:21:08 AM EST
    I have had the non-lawyers' naive thought that if the detainees wanted to promote the cause of transparent justice that they could refuse the settlement, insist on taking it to trial, and gamble on what happened.
    Isn't it universal practice in settlements of any sort for the paying party to admit no wrongdoing and seal the record?  Why the digs at Britain?

    Yes, they could've risked (none / 0) (#2)
    by Harry Saxon on Wed Nov 17, 2010 at 09:35:01 AM EST
    delays and procedural handicaps if they had
    gone to trial without perhaps the info you mention coming out anyway, just as the British could've decided to do so and risk having their precious 'state secrets' exposed, so it's a two-way street, doc.