Daily Star Home  

<%-- Page Title--%> Human Rights monitor <%-- End Page Title--%>

  <%-- Page Title--%> Issue No 148 <%-- End Page Title--%>  

July 11, 2004

  <%-- Page Title--%> <%-- Navigation Bar--%>
<%-- Navigation Bar--%>

Supreme Court Ruling on Guantanamo: A step towards restoring the rule of law

Amnesty International USA

The United States Supreme Court has taken a step towards restoring the rule of law for the hundreds of non-US nationals in military custody in Guantánamo Bay.

These detainees have been at the mercy of unfettered executive power for the past two and half years. Today's ruling that the US courts have jurisdiction to consider challenges to the lawfulness of such detentions moves us one step closer to justice and accountability in the context of the USA's 'war on terror' detention policies. The US administration chose the Guantá namo naval base as a location to hold indefinitely, hundreds of those it designated as "enemy combatants" because it believed that it could keep them out of the reach of the federal courts. This decision punctures this assumption. The government should take this ruling to heart and adopt an approach that puts human rights and the rule of law at the centre of the pursuit of security.

Amnesty International empha-sised that judicial review of the lawfulness of one's detention is a fundamental principle of international human rights law which now covers all those held in Guantánamo. Judicial review is an integral component of the prohibition against arbitrary detention and a fundamental protection against torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The recent revelations from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the contents of leaked and declassified government memoranda cannot have gone unnoticed by the US Supreme Court Justices.

Throughout this process, the administration has shown a lack of trust in its domestic courts and a disregard for its international obligations. At the same time it asked for others to trust that it would not abuse its power. That appeal to blind faith has been rejected by the Supreme Court.

Amnesty International believes that all those in Guantánamo should be released unless they are charged with recognisably criminal offences and brought to trial in full accordance with international standards, and without resort to the death penalty. Those held in US custody in Afghanistan or in secret locations elsewhere in the world must also be granted their full rights under international law.

This is an edited version of the Press release of Amnesty International USA Monday, June 28, 2004.

      (C) Copyright The Daily Star. The Daily Star Internet Edition, is joiblished by the Daily Star