Guantanamo Hearings Assailed

The Supreme Court ruled on June 28 that Guantanamo detainees can challenge the legality of their detentions. The Pentagon touted its compliance with the ruling by setting up a system of one-sided hearings. The hearings will be presided over by 3 military officials --and the detainees can't consult with or be represented by counsel.

The U.S. government should allow detainees access to lawyers and to their families and permit detainees to begin to challenge their detention in the federal court system," said Alexandra Arriaga, director of government relations for Amnesty International USA. "They've held people for over two years now. They should know at this point who they suspect of a crime, charge them, and try them in a fair court of justice in an open process. And the others should be released," Arriaga said.

Rachel Meeropol, a human rights lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, called the new procedures inadequate and illegal, and said they fall far short of satisfying the Supreme Court's ruling. "The fact is they're coming up with these procedures on the fly," said Meeropol, whose group has filed cases in federal court seeking the release of several Guantanamo prisoners.

Arriaga said that while the government should be doing everything possible in light of the court ruling to facilitate judicial review of the lawfulness of the detentions, it instead appears to be trying to narrow the scope of the review. Arriaga noted that the new process remains entirely within the U.S. military, and that all sorts of evidence will be admissible, including from anonymous witnesses and statements that may have been coerced.

Amnesty issued this press release yesterday.

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