Rene — US Wary Over Granting Bagram Inmates' Rights

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US Wary Over Granting Bagram Inmates’ Rights
Published on Friday, January 8, 2010 by Agence France Presse
WASHINGTON – A US appeals court has appeared reluctant to grant
detainees at the Bagram prison in Afghanistan the same rights given in
2008 to prisoners in Guantanamo to be able to challenge their
detention in US civilian courts.
Judges here were wary of extending three detainees such rights at the
military prison at the Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, indicating such
a ruling could lead to other prisoners held oversees by the United
States to seek redress in federal court.
In April last year, US District Judge John Bates recognized the right
of the detainees, held at Bagram without charge for at least six
years, to challenge their detention in the United States, according to
their lawyers.
He based the ruling on the landmark Supreme Court move in 2008 to
allow such rights to prisoners held at the US naval base at Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba.
“These detainees have been denied a due process,” insisted attorney
Tina Foster on Thursday.
The three appeals court judges however expressed concern that an
approval of Bates’ ruling would open the door to more than 670
prisoners currently held at Bagram, and serve as precedent for other
people detained in US military bases around the world.
The Bagram prison has served since 2002 as a holding site for terror
suspects captured outside Afghanistan and Iraq.
In September, the United States granted Bagram prisoners the nominal
right to challenge their detention, but not in US courts.
Bates originally ruled that foreign prisoners held at Bagram should
also be provided the right enshrined in the writ of habeas corpus.
In responding, however, the administration has argued Bates’s ruling
“reverses long-standing law, imposes great practical problems,
conflicts with the considered judgment of both political branches, and
risks opening the federal courts to habeas claims brought by detainees
held in other theaters of war during future military actions.”
Many of the detainees at Bagram have languished for years.
But unlike prisoners at Guantanamo Bay — where some 229 “war on
terror” detainees are still held — the Bagram inmates have had no
access to lawyers, no right to hear the allegations against them and
only rudimentary reviews of their status as “enemy combatants.”