As reported by the UK Friends of Bradley Manning, the British Government has tonight recognised that Bradley Manning is a citizen of the United Kingdom.
Ann Clwyd MP, spoke of Manning in parliament just after 10PM, a continuation of her previous efforts to raise Manning's case in the UK. On March 16, Ann Clwyd raised the question of Manning's treatment with Foreign Secretary, William Hague, during his testimony before the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. (The exchange between Clwyd and Hague appears in the last several minutes here.). The next day, Ann Clwyd formally requested during Business Questions in the Commons that a debate be held on the conditions of Manning's detention. She explicitly compared Manning's treatment to that "meted out" to prisoners at Guantanamo.
Tonight she was answered by Henry Bellingham MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who, while defending the US “effective and robust judicial system,” and stressing the limitations of UK involvement, also noted some very important points:
- Human rights is “an irreducible core” of UK foreign policy and an essential part of that core is a commitment to the eradication of “cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.”
- “The conditions an individual is detained in must meet international standards … this is particularly important in pretrial detention.”
- If concerns are raised then, as a government, “we have an obligation to listen.”
- Over 30 MPs had reported their constituents’ concerns to the Foreign Office.
- On 29th March a senior official in the British Embassy in Washington called his counterpart in the US State Department. He handed over a copy of the “uncorrected evidence” of Ann Clwyd’s exchange with William Hague at the Foreign Affairs Committee, together with a copy of Early Day Motion 1624. This official drew attention to the fact that this debate in the UK now existed at the level of Parliamentary interest.
- While noting that Manning's lawyer has said he “does not consider himself British” and “it is clear he is not asking for our help” he also said that Ann Clwyd’s “understanding of the British Nationality Act is accurate.” A child born abroad after 1983 to a British citizen “not by descent” automatically acquires citizenship at birth. Therefore, Manning is a British citizen.
- In light of this debate he “would instruct our embassy to again report our concerns to the State Department.”
Amnesty International, has condemned the treatment of Manning, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture is investigating the case, Human Rights Watch has asked the US government to "publicly explain the precise reasons behind extremely restrictive and possibly punitive and degrading treatment," and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a press release charging that the US government's treatment of Manning as "cruel and unusual."
Previous WL Central coverage of Bradley Manning.
WL Central action page for Bradley Manning.
* Transcript: Bradley Manning Debate
* Bradley Manning case: British moral authority 'at risk'
Amelia Hill & Damien Pearse, The Guardian