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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2701

Terrorist Suspects in US Detention in Guantanamo Have right to American Courts – US Supreme Court

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 13 June (Asiantribune.com): In a clear set back to Republican President Bush's anti-terror policies, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday, June 12 that foreign detainees or enemy combatants as the administration like to describe held for years, at US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have the right to appeal to U.S. civilian courts to challenge their indefinite imprisonment without charges.

The court also recognized the habeas corpus as an important instrument in the discharge of justice.

The Republican-controlled Congress suspended this centuries-old legal remedy to be brought before a court of law ending prolonged detention but it was restored when the Democratic Party wrested control of both the Senate and the House in January 2007.

The Republican Party and President Bush have argued the detentions are needed to protect the nation in a time of unprecedented threats from al-Qaida and other foreign terrorist groups.

Approximately 200 detainees have lawsuits on hold in federal court in Washington.

Human rights groups and many Democratic members of Congress welcomed the ruling as affirming the nation's commitment to the rule of law. However several Republican lawmakers called it a decision that put foreign terrorists' rights above the safety of the American people.

The court has ruled twice previously that ‘enemy combatants’ held at Guantanamo without charges can go into civilian courts to ask that the government justify their continued detention. Each time, the administration and Congress, then controlled by Republicans, changed the law to try to close the courthouse doors to the detainees.

The head of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents dozens of prisoners at Guantanamo, welcomed the ruling.

"The Supreme Court has finally brought an end to one of our nation's most egregious injustices," said CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren. "By granting the writ of habeas corpus, the Supreme Court recognizes a rule of law established hundreds of years ago and essential to American jurisprudence since our nation's founding."

Meanwhile Amnesty International hailed Thursday’s Supreme Court decision in the pivotal Boumediene v. Bush case recognizing habeas corpus and declaring that the system the Bush administration and Congress have put in place to classify the Guantanamo Bay detainees as “unlawful enemy combatants” is inadequate.

The Amnesty International USA’s executive director Larry Cox released the following statement in response to the decision:

"Today's landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision has rightly reaffirmed the age-old, fundamental right for those detained to receive a fair and neutral hearing and to learn the specific reason for their detention – and challenge it. Simply put, for the third time the Court has told the Bush administration that it can't do what it wants to at Guantanamo Bay.

"Until now, the Bush administration and Congress have been in a legalistic rain dance, hoping that some rationale for indefinite detention and the denial of habeas corpus would fall from the sky. But the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling is a stark indictment of wrongdoing at Guantanamo. After more than six years of detention in inhuman conditions, the further detainment of those at Guantanamo without recognizable charge or fair trial is intolerable and unconstitutional.

"Still, the U.S. Supreme Court decision is a limited victory for human rights. It will not stop U.S. officials from transferring detainees to places where their constitutional right to habeas corpus is not protected. It will not close Guantanamo. And it will likely not stop the Bush administration from finding devious ways to circumvent the law. President Bush -- how many more Supreme Court decisions do you need to do the right thing and end injustice?"

- Asian Tribune -

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