January 11, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Five Years After the First Guantánamo Flight, Civil and Human Rights Continue
MIAMI, FL - On the fifth anniversary of the first known
flight of prisoners to the U.S. prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the American
Civil Liberties Union of Florida and Amnesty International are calling for
restoration of habeas and due process rights as well as closure of the
Guantánamo prison. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 gutted habeas - our law
against unlawful imprisonment - from our Constitution, thus removing the
limitations on arbitrary executive power over any person's individual freedoms.
"This government continues to operate under the pretense that they are above
the law," said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. "The
Military Commissions Act is a chilling rubber stamp on previous violations of
law. This administration is ineptly sending a message to the rest of the world
that they are free to do the same to our men and women in uniform - the very
people sworn to protect our freedoms are being put in harm's way. The rule of
law must be restored in America, starting at the top."
In 2006, the Supreme
Court ruled against the President in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld declaring the military
commissions illegal according to the Geneva Conventions. The decision by the
government to ignore Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, then bypass the
court's decision by providing themselves with a "get out of jail free" card (by
way of the Military Commissions Act - "Act") is an unlawful scheme that should
not be tolerated by the American public. The President has assumed the power to
make judgment calls on what does and does not breach the Geneva Conventions, an
abuse of power with little or no oversight from Congress or the courts.
is the responsibility of the U.S. Congress to act as a check on the power of the
Executive Branch," said Brandon Hensler, an ACLU of Florida spokesperson. "Our
elected representatives were asleep at the wheel when this Act was passed and it
is now the duty of the 110th Congress to restore the rule law in our nation.
"Americans want a government that represents their values: freedom, fairness
and the rule of law," Hensler continued. "This administration has violated these
values time and again."
The groups said those suspected of being enemy
combatants should be charged and prosecuted; but our government has no business
detaining anyone without cause, whether in the U.S. or abroad. The inhumane
treatment of prisoners that is allowed by the Act coupled with use of admissions
obtained through measures that amount to torture cannot be allowed.
world's only superpower needs to lead on human rights and not provide excuses
for other nations to violate them," said Jessica Carvalho Morris of Amnesty
International's Miami Chapter. "The time is long overdue for the United States
to turn its back on torture and unlawful detentions and respect international
The responsibility now lies with the recently convened 110th Congress
to restore the rule of law and demand that our President follow the same laws
that apply to all Americans.
Learn more about the government's abuse of
power at: www.aclufl.org