Federal court stays habeas proceedings for Bagram detainees

[JURIST] A federal court on Monday stayed habeas corpus challenges [opinion, PDF] brought by three detainees held at Bagram Air Base [official website; GlobalSecurity backgrounder] pending appeal. Judge John Bates of the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] granted a motion [text, PDF ; JURIST report] filed in April by the government asking that he certify and suspend his earlier ruling [opinion, PDF; JURIST report], which allowed the challenges to proceed. The certification allows the Department of Justice (DOJ) to seek interlocutory appeal from the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website], giving them the opportunity to decide whether the detainees, Fadi Al Maqaleh, Amin Al Bakri, and Redha Al Najar, may invoke the Constitution's Suspension Clause [text]. Calling the issue of whether US courts have jurisdiction over habeas claims by detainees "an extremely serious one on which courts could reasonable differ," Bates said that:


although petitioners argue convincingly that they will suffer the quintessential substantial, irreparable harm - continued incarceration - should these cases be stayed, respondents have an equally convincing argument that the United States will suffer irreparable harms to vital national interests should these cases proceed during the pendency of appeal.

In his April order, Bates applied a multi-factor test developed by the US Supreme Court in its decision in Boumediene v. Bush [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] for the allowing the suspension of habeas corpus to hold that the three detainees were entitled to proceed with their habeas challenges. A fourth petition, filed by Afghan national Haji Wazir, was denied due to "practical obstacles" presented by release into an "active theater of war."

The DC District Court has been the venue for many habeas challenges, especially for Guantanamo detainees suspected of involvement with terrorism. In April, DC Circuit Judge Ellen Huvelle ordered [text, PDF] that Afghan Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Mohammed Jawad [ACLU materials; JURIST news archive], detained since he was a teenager, be allowed to challenge his detention in federal courts without delay. Last month, Jawad's military lawyers petitioned [JURIST report] the Supreme Court of Afghanistan [official website] to demand his release from the facility. Also last month, former Guantanamo detainee Lakhdar Boumediene [BBC profile], whose Supreme Court challenge secured detainees' ability to challenge their detention in federal court, was released and sent to France [DOJ press release; JURIST report].


 

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