Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Can US courts free Guantánamo prisoners?

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Interesting article in the Washington Independent by Daphne Eviatar. It begins:

In what’s being called the first major challenge of the Obama administration’s detention policy, lawyers on Monday filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case of Kiyemba v. Obama, in which a Court of Appeals ruled that federal courts do not have the power to order innocent Guantánamo detainees released into the United States.

The significance of that ruling goes far beyond the now-notorious case of the 17 Chinese Muslim Uighurs directly involved. At its core, the petition asks the Supreme Court more broadly: does a federal court have any power at all over innocent prisoners of the “war on terror”?

In the Kiyemba case, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that even though the government had no grounds to continue to hold the Uighurs, imprisoned for more than seven years, the federal courts had no authority to order them released into the United States, either. Their lawyers say that makes their right to habeas corpus — confirmed by the Supreme Court last June in Boumediene v. Bush — meaningless.

“What happens in a habeas case is the judge orders the jailer to release the prisoner,” explained Sabin Willett, the lead lawyer representing the Uighurs. “But there’s no sovereign [government] the court can order except our own. Now the DC circuit is saying the court can’t even do that.”

The result is that not only are these Chinese Muslim dissidents still stuck at Guantánamo Bay, but the Obama administration has used the Kiyemba ruling broadly to argue that all habeas corpus proceedings brought by prisoners approved for release should be halted because the courts have no power to release the men from prison anyway. In other words, when it comes to innocent men imprisoned indefinitely at Guantanamo, the judiciary has no role to play at all.

What’s more, the Obama administration has been using the latest Kiyemba ruling to seek a ban on all lawsuits brought by former Guantánamo prisoners claiming constitutional violations by U.S. military officials, claiming that the D.C. court ruled that prisoners a Guantánamo Bay have no due process rights…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2009 at 11:32 am

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