World Council of Churches - Central Committee News Release
Contact: + 41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363

For immediate release: 21 February 2005 - pr-cc-05-09

WCC central committee requests legal rights for Guantanamo detainees

The World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee urged the government of the United States "to immediately grant the legal rights accorded to detainees" to "over 600 foreign nationals, mostly Muslims" held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base "without due process and in total violation of the norms and standards of international humanitarian and human rights law".

In a statement approved one day before the end of its 15-22 February meeting in Geneva, the committee also appealed "to the US Government to let the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCC-USA) fulfil its pastoral and humanitarian responsibilities to the detainees by giving it permission to visit them at Guantanamo Bay".

The WCC governing body appreciates and encourages "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 suffering "unconscionable and illegal detention". Among those endeavours is mentioned the 'amicus curiae' brief filed in the US Supreme Court by the NCCC-USA together with other organizations.

The statement also calls on the Council's churches to "educate and conscientise their congregations to the situation of those presently under detention in Guantanamo Bay and to fulfil their responsibility as a community of faith in Christ by calling for the release of those being held in detention under inhuman conditions".

The full text of the WCC central committee statement is available at: > Central Committee > Documents

Additional information: Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.