CCR + FIDH on Guantanamo

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International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
In a Historic Decision, the U.S. Supreme Court Rules that the
War Crimes Trials
Are Illegal under Both Military Justice Law and the Geneva Conventions
FIDH and CCR acclaim Thursday, June 29, 2006 tremendously significant
decision of the Supreme Court ruling that U.S. President George W. Bush
overstepped his powers in ordering the establishment of military
commissions to try detainees held at Guantánamo.
The Supreme Court Justices issued a historic decision, with a majority
of 5 against 3, saying that they `conclude that the military
convened to try Hamdan lacks power to proceed because its structure and
procedures violate both the UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] and
the Geneva Conventions. Four of us also conclude, see Part V, infra,
that the offense with which Hamdan has been charged is not an
that by =85 the law of war may be tried by military commissions.”
In a
military order issued on November 3, 2001, President Bush authorized
special tribunals (the so-called `military commissions’) to be held
prosecute suspected authors of violations of the laws of war by
conspiring to commit acts of terrorism against the United States.
Yesterday’s decision renders them illegal.
The Supreme Court further agreed that the Common Article 3 to the Geneva
Conventions should not be ignored in the conflict against Al-Qaeda and
stated that `The phrase `all the guarantees =85 recognized as
indispensable by civilized peoples’ in Common Article 3 of the Geneva
Conventions is not defined, but it must be understood to incorporate at
least the barest of the trial protections recognized by customary
international law.’
Mr. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni detainee designated by President Bush
to be tried before a `military commission’ in Guantánamo Bay,
Cuba, had
filed a lawsuit challenging the President’s authority to establish
military commissions in the absence of specific congressional action and
the military’s authority to try him in violation of the Geneva
Conventions. After Mr. Hamdan’s claims were rejected on appeal last
2005, the United States Supreme Court agreed to review the appellate
decision, and it overturned it on Thursday, June 29, 2006.
In support of Mr. Hamdan, CCR, FIDH and Human Rights Watch filed
together an amicus brief (friend of the court) in January 2006,
stressing that `The detention and military commission systems created
the Executive to hold and try persons seized in the `war on terror’
implemented at the United States Naval Station in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba
violate the well-established norms of international humanitarian law
embodied in binding treaties and customary international law.’
This decision today affirms the human rights groups opinions stated in
the brief and is a sweeping defeat for the Bush Administration.
CCR `declared the Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld as
significant victory for the Constitution, fairness and due process,
vindicating the Center’s five-year legal fight for due process and
rights against the Bush Administration’s illegal detention
`The next step now is to ensure that people detained in other
centers by the United States, such as in Baghram, Afghanistan, or in
secret detention centers, are equally offered protection under the
Geneva Conventions and are treated humanely, in accordance to Common
Article 3,’ said Sidiki Kaba, FIDH President.
FIDH and CCR repeat their call for the closure of Guantánamo, where
hundreds of men are still being held at, and ask the Bush Administration
to either release detainees when they have not been charged with any
crime, or to try them before an independent and impartial tribunal.
CCR President Michael Ratner concludes: `The Supreme Court has firmly
rejected President Bush’s attempt to sidestep American courts. Now
President must act: try our clients in lawful U.S. courts or release
them. The game is up. There is no way for President Bush to continue
hiding behind a purported lack of judicial guidance to avoid addressing
the illegal and immoral prison in Guantánamo Bay.’
Press contact : Karine Appy + 33 1 43 55 14 12/ + 33 1 43 55 25 18

Karine Appy
Attachée de presse
Press Officer
+33 1 43 55 14 12
+33 1 43 55 25 18
+33 6 68 42 93 47