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U.K. judge condemns detenu torture

Richard Norton-Taylor and Suzanne Goldenberg

Out of step with civilised nations, says court


London/Washington: A British judge on Thursday delivered a stinging attack on the United States, saying its idea of what constituted torture was out of step with that of ``most civilised nations''.

The criticism, directed at the Bush administration's approach to human rights, was made by Mr Justice Collins during a hearing in the High Court in London over the refusal by British Ministers to request the release of three British residents held at Guantanamo Bay.

The judge said: ``America's idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to coincide with that of most civilised nations''. He made his comments, he said, after learning of the U.N. report that said Guantanamo should be shut down without delay because torture was still being carried out there.

The report, by five inspectors for the U.N. human rights commissioner, refers to shackling, hooding and forcing detenus to wear earphones and goggles. In particular, it refers to interrogation techniques and violence used to force feed prisoners on hunger strike. Based on interviews with detenus' lawyers, former inmates, and written exchanges with U.S. officials, it calls on the U.S. to put the 490 inmates on trial, or release them. The U.N. inspectors refused a U.S. offer to tour Guantanamo after they were barred from visiting the prisoners. The document is the U.N.'s first to address Guantanamo.

The White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, dismissed its findings as a ``rehash of old allegations. —

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

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