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Amnesty International Urges Bush Administration Not Ressurect Gitmo Commissions

AI-logo.jpgAmnesty International Urges Bush Administration Not to Resurrect Commissions in Any Other Form or Manner
Group Called for Closure of Detention Center Over a Year Ago
(Washington, DC) — Amnesty International is urging President Bush to use the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld as the impetus to review the full range of his administration’s “war on terror” detention policies and practices, whether in effect in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, Iraq or undisclosed locations.

“This decision should become a turning point in the effort to return the United States to principles of due process and fundamental rights,” said Jumana Musa, Amnesty International USA’s Advocacy Director for Domestic Human Rights and International Justice. “The ruling sent a clear message to President Bush that he cannot act unilaterally to create a system of law from thin air.” Ms. Musa, an international law attorney, has been Amnesty International’s legal observer at the military commission hearings in Guantanamo Bay for the last two years and has monitored the proceedings in person on five occasions.

Rob Freer, Amnesty International’s researcher on the United States, added, “President Bush must now see the bigger picture and ensure that his administration adopts a progressive interpretation of the ruling in the interest of justice, respect for human rights and the reputation of the United States. He must not seek to resurrect the military commissions in other forms or by other means.”

The court affirmed the applicability of fundamental protections under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, specifically trials under “regularly constituted courts affording all the judicial guarantees … recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.” In early 2002, President Bush determined that Common Article 3, which also prohibits torture, cruel, humiliating or degrading treatment, did not apply to those detained by the United States in Afghanistan and the wider “war on terror.”

Amnesty International has called for more than one year for the closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, with detainees tried in accordance with international fair trial standards or released.

When asked recently about closing the prison camp at Guantanamo, President Bush has said that he was waiting for the Supreme Court to rule in the Hamdan case, as it concerned the question of whether the detainees he has designated “enemy combatants” could be tried by military commission.

The military commissions — bodies created by the executive branch, not independent courts — fall far short of international standards for fair trials. Justice would neither be done nor be seen to be done in any trials conducted before them.

Amnesty International continues to stress that the closure of the Guantanamo facility must not be used to transfer the human rights violations elsewhere. Every detainee should be guaranteed their full rights under international law and standards, including the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to judicial review of the lawfulness of their detention, and the right of anyone charged with recognizably criminal offenses to be brought to full and fair trial in an independent and impartial court of law, without the threat of the death penalty.

For more information, visit www.amnestyusa.org.

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