Algeria national seeks emergency stay of transfer from Guantanamo

[JURIST] Lawyers for an Algerian national detained at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] on Monday filed an emergency motion [text, PDF] in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] to block the detainee's transfer to his home country. Petitioner Ahmed Belbacha renewed his request for an administrative stay of a February court order mandating the transfer. The motion alleges that flaws in an earlier court order and new circumstances in the case motivate a ruling in favor of Belbacha:


With respect, the Court seriously misapprehended Mr. Belbacha's earlier request for an administrative stay. In addition, a fresh development – an announcement on Friday that the Attorney General will meet this week with the Algerian Minister of Justice – underscores the need for an administrative stay. As this Court recently recognized, the "potential harm" that Mr. Belbacha faces if he is transferred to Algeria is "significant" and "substantial." The case for an administrative stay is especially strong because there is substantial question as to the Court's jurisdiction to issue the February 4 Order.

Belbacha has argued that he will be subjected to abuse and criminal prosecution if returned to Algeria, a situation that his counsel argues necessitates the emergency court order. Belbacha relies on the 2008 Supreme Court ruling in Boumediene v. Bush [JURIST report] that Guantanamo detainees have a right to challenge their imprisonment, which resulted in a spate of detainee suits against the federal government.

Last month, the US Supreme Court [official website] declined to rule [JURIST report] in the case known as Kiyemba II, in which the court was asked to consider issues surrounding the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees. Lawyers for four Chinese Muslim Uighurs [JURIST news archive] detained at Guantanamo were appealing [JURIST report] an April ruling [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Columbia Circuit, which held that US courts cannot prevent the government from transferring Guantanamo detainees to foreign countries on the grounds that detainees may face prosecution or torture in the foreign country. The case is separate from a case the court remanded [JURIST report] to the DC circuit court earlier last month, known as Kiyemba I. The US government has prevailed in 12 of the 46 habeas corpus cases decided [JURIST news archive] in the DC District Court since the Boumediene ruling.


 

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