Al Jazeera | English | News | US court backs Guantanamo detainees

The US Supreme Court has ruled that foreigners held at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay have the right under the constitution to challenge their detention in civilian courts.

The decision is a setback for George Bush, the US president, who said on Thursday that he disagreed but would abide by it.

The court, by a vote of five to four, ruled that detainees in the US jail in southern Cuba “have the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus”.

“The laws and constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court.

Rob Reynolds, Al Jazeera’s senior Washington correspondent, said the ruling was “a very significant milestone in this very long running battle”.

“Really it’s a victory for the proper system of justice. The reason that Guantanamo was chosen was because it was not on American soil … the White House believed that because they [the detainees] would be on foreign soil they would be beyond the reach of American justice,” he said.

“It’s been a very long process but through a series of lawsuits … the justices have chipped away at the unusual means under which these individuals are being detained.”

Constitutional rights

The court ruled that even if the base was officially on Cuban territory, it was in fact operating as if it were on American soil and therefore detainees had the same constitutional rights as all Americans.

The ruling is the third on Guantanamo that has gone against the Bush administration.

Detainees and their legal teams could now demand that the government reveal the evidence against them to justify their continued detention.

The government has refused to do this arguing it would be against the interests of national security.

Detainees have long protested that they had been mistreated, and rights groups have questioned the legality of the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals.

But it was not immediately clear whether the ruling would lead to prompt hearings for the detainees, some of whom have been held more than 6 years.

About 270 so-called enemy combatants remain at the prison facility.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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A small victory for the detainees at Guantanamo, and another small thread broken in the Bush Administration’s evil web of lies, greed, corruption, scandal, and general sliminess.  Peace 🙂

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~ by peaceseeker99 on June 13, 2008.

One Response to “Al Jazeera | English | News | US court backs Guantanamo detainees”

  1. This is a great day for American constitutionalism. It is shocking, however, that four-ninths of the United States Supreme Court find compelling justification to imprison innocent men (i.e., those who might be exonerated at trial) for life without a constitutionally recognized judicial hearing.

    My take on this case is posted here.

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