Supreme Court Ruling: “Justice Denied” for Detainees

The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court today to deny Guantanamo Bay detainees review of the legality of their detention is “justice delayed, and justice denied,” Human Rights First said today.


Hina Shamsi, deputy director of HRF’s Law and Security Program, noted that prisoners at Guantanamo have been in U.S. custody without due process for more than five years. “The delay is disappointing,” said Shamsi, “Still, in a separate statement and a dissent, a total of five justices sent the message that they will be watching to see how and with what speed the government proceeds in the detainees’ challenges to their imprisonment.”


The court’s decision in two related cases, Al Odah v. Bush and Boumediene v. Bush, means that the detainees must first appeal the adequacy of the Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) process for determining whether detainees are “unlawful enemy combatants” to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.


“The CSRT process that the detainees must now appeal has already shown itself to be fundamentally unfair for three key reasons: it uses a broad definition of ‘enemy combatant’ that violates the laws of war, it allows evidence obtained through torture, and it does not permit a meaningful factual inquiry by an independent judge into the basis for detention,” Shamsi said.


Human Rights First has criticized the standard for appeals court review of the CSRT hearings under the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 for failing to meet constitutional requirements because, among other things, it restricts appeals court review of the underlying facts justifying a detainee’s detention.


“The administration’s Guantanamo detention and trial policy is irretrievably broken,” said Shamsi, who has just returned from monitoring military commission hearings at the U.S. military’s naval base in Cuba. She added, “The Supreme Court’s decision to punt review of the detainees’ cases increases pressure on Congress to restore habeas corpus, which is the Constitution’s safeguard against arbitrary and indefinite detention.”


Published on April 2, 2007


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