Martins Issues Troubling Missive on Military Commissions Observers
New York City – Human Right First today expressed concern over public statements made by Brigadier General Mark Martins blaming military commissions observers for characterizing the system as illegitimate and dysfunctional.
“Brig. Gen. Mark Martins’ statement yesterday is surprising. Generally the military has partnered with observers who are attempting to monitor the system to ensure its fairness, not only for the defendants but most importantly, to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States,” said Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar, who has observed numerous trials at Guantanamo Bay, including the prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 conspirators.
Human Rights First calls on military commissions officials to reject the temptation to blame advocacy organizations and outside actors for the trials’ dysfunction, and instead analyze the central flaws of the military commissions.
“The victims and their families deserve to see justice done swiftly and legitimately in a reliable court where the verdicts will have global respect,” Eviatar stressed. “Martins’ statement does not do justice to the efforts of people inside and outside government to see that justice is served and that the American legal system is strengthened, not weakened. Trying complex terrorism cases in an offshore makeshift court system whose jurisdiction over these cases is uncertain and without reliable legal precedent as guidance creates enormous obstacles.”
As Human Rights First and many other advocacy groups have pointed out, the system of military trials has proceeded agonizingly slowly, producing few convictions and many appeals, while the federal court system inside the United States continues to have a track record of timely and efficient prosecutions of terrorism suspects. Human Rights First has urged the U.S. government to move swiftly toward ending military prosecutions for terror suspects in favor of the federal court system, as outlined in Guantanamo: A Comprehensive Exit Strategy.