UN rights chief, activists applaud Supreme Court Guantanamo decision

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile] Thursday commended [press release] the US Supreme Court for its ruling [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that federal courts have jurisdiction to review habeas corpus petitions filed by Guantanamo detainees classified as enemy combatants. Arbour, who in August 2007 submitted an amicus curiae brief [filing, PDF] in support of the detainees, said that the court's "recognition that security and liberty are not trade-offs, but can be reconciled through the framework of the law" was in line with traditional American jurisprudence. Officials at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website], which represents several Guantanamo detainees, called the ruling a "landmark win" [press release] because it said civil courts could now review the lawfulness of Guantanamo detentions. Amnesty International [advocacy website], which also submitted an amicus brief [filing, PDF] for the detainees, described the decision [press release] as a "stark indictment of wrongdoing at Guantanamo." Australia's ABC News has more.

The Supreme Court has ruled against the government in previous cases concerning the legal rights of enemy combatants. The Court decided in 2002 that foreign-born Guantanamo detainees could challenge their detention in US civil courts [Rasul v. Bush opinion; JURIST report]. In June 2006, the Court held [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that the military commission system as initially constituted violated both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention. Congress subsequently passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [DOD materials], which established the current military commissions system. In the most recent case, 25 human rights groups and supporters, including international parliaments, lawyers' associations and military groups, submitted amicus briefs [CCR case page, with links] for the detainees.



 

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