My Band The Four Fathers Release ‘Equal Rights And Justice For All,’ Defending Habeas Corpus, Opposing Arbitrary Detention at Guantánamo and in the UK


The cover for The Four Fathers' new online single, 'Equal Rights And Justice For All.'My band The Four Fathers have just released a brand-new online single, ‘Equal Rights And Justice For All,’ a passionate defence of habeas corpus, which is supposed to protect all of us from arbitrary imprisonment.

The song — an insistent and infectious roots reggae groove — was inspired by my work trying to get the prison at Guantánamo Bay closed down, my work opposing the use of secret evidence in the UK, and also by the 800th anniversary of King John signing Magna Carta in 2015. The key element of this document, which the barons obliged him to sign, was habeas corpus, the right to be bought before a judge to test the validity of one’s imprisonment, which, over the centuries that followed, ended up applying to everyone, and was successfully exported around the world as a hugely significant bulwark against tyranny.

See below for the song, on Bandcamp, where you can listen to it for free — or, if you’d like to support us, buy it as a download for just £1 ($1.25) — or more if you’d like.

After 9/11, of course, the United States introduced imprisonment without charge or trial for the men it held at Guantánamo — and elsewhere in the “war on terror” — thereby undermining habeas corpus. Prisoners ought to have had habeas rights, unless they were held according to the Geneva Conventions, but post-9/11 prisoners of the “war on terror” were, shockingly, held without any rights at all.

In 2008, the Supreme Court granted the Guantánamo prisoners habeas corpus rights, but these rights were gutted of all meaning in a number of nakedly ideological rulings made by the court of appeals in Washington, D.C. — decisions which the Supreme Court then refused to consider, effectively handing “war on terror” detainee policy to right-wing judges in a lower court. For the gutting of habeas corpus in Guantánamo, see my articles As Judges Kill Off Habeas Corpus for the Guantánamo Prisoners, Will the Supreme Court Act? and The Supreme Court Abandons the Guantánamo Prisoners.

In addition, in the UK, the Blair government, after 9/11, held foreign “terror suspects” without charge or trial, in maximum-security prisons or under a form of house arrest, on the basis of secret evidence that they were forbidden from seeing in hearings in a special secret court, and also held some UK citizens under house arrest on the same basis. I spent a considerable amount of time — particularly in 2008 and 2009 — opposing these policies (see here, for example, and also see this comprehensive report by JUSTICE).

However, although the house arrest situation (control orders) largely ended with the last Labour government, and plans to deport most of the foreign nationals held without charge or trial were dropped under the Tories (with the exception of Abu Qatada), the Tories have their own abominable track record when it comes to terrorism.

It was Theresa May, as Home Secretary, who was obsessed with sending Abu Qatada back to Jordan, and it is May who is still driving the Tories’ obsession with ending Britain’s association with the European Court of Human Rights (which seems to be her main fascination with Brexit). As Home Secretary, May also stripped dual nationals of their citizenship, so they could then be killed by US drones, and those interested in finding out more can check out my articles, What Does It Say About the Tories That They Want to Scrap Human Rights Legislation? and As Theresa May Becomes Prime Minister, A Look Back at Her Authoritarianism, Islamophobia and Harshness on Immigration.

With specific reference to habeas corpus, please also see my article 800 Years of Magna Carta: The Stench of Hypocrisy Regarding Habeas Corpus for Shaker Aamer and Other Guantánamo Prisoners, and also my photos of a protest against legal aid cuts, at which I spoke about habeas corpus and the rights of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, who was released in October 2015, in part as a result of a campaign I co-founded, We Stand With Shaker, which seized the public’s imagination by getting celebrities and MPs to be photographed with a giant inflatable figure of Shaker.

The Four Fathers’ first involvement with Guantánamo came with ‘Song for Shaker Aamer,’ used in the We Stand With Shaker campaign video. We then released a new version of the song reflecting Shaker’s release, and in 2016 released ‘Close Guantánamo’ for the Close Guantánamo campaign I co-founded in 2012, which was also used in a campaign video. After Trump’s election, we revised the song, and the video.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

10 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, promoting the release – today – of the latest online single by my band The Four Fathers. ‘Equal Rights and Justice For All’ is a rousing defence of habeas corpus, set to a roots reggae rhythm, inspired by the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta (in 2015), and the unforgivable situation faced by the men at Guantanamo – and ‘terror suspects’ held on the basis of secret evidence in the UK – who have been deprived of their habeas rights: the right of EVERYONE not to be subjected to arbitrary detention.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Laura Lance wrote:

    I love it, Andy! Beautiful, spirited and powerful. You have a heart of gold. 💛 I have shared this on my timeline. Thank you for all that you do.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Laura. Your support is greatly appreciated!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    Love the chorus and the singing and the flute. Great song 🙂

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Indira Krishnamurti Pradhan wrote:

    Just heard the song and it’s lovely and powerful! I like the tune and the lyrics. Many thanks.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Indira. Glad you like it! Great to hear from you!

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Anna Giddings wrote:

    I really love it Andy. Thanks!

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    So glad to hear that you love it, Anna! 🙂

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Angela Gipple wrote:

    Loving the flute, but it’s all good. Gratitude for all you give, Andy.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Angela. Glad you like the song!

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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