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Justice (Indefinitely) Delayed

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February 18, 2009

On January 12, the ACLU filed a habeas corpus petition on behalf of Guantánamo detainee Mohammed Jawad, who was a teenager when he was taken into U.S. custody in Afghanistan. The case seeks to challenge the basis for Jawad’s illegal detention and prosecution in the unconstitutional military commissions system in a federal court. Even Jawad’s former military prosecutor, Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld supports our case. He left the military commissions because he did not believe he could ethically prosecute Jawad’s case because there is “no credible evidence or legal basis” to justify Jawad’s detention and prosecution.

Just two days after the Bush Justice Department received our petition, DOJ attorneys filed a motion to dismiss or delay our case on the grounds that the federal court should wait for Jawad’s military commission case to end. But of course, the landscape changed after President Obama took office and issued an executive order instructing Defense Secretary Gates to seek a halt to all military commission cases, including Jawad’s.

The President’s Order is a good first step to end the ignominious commissions, but it cannot be used — as the government now is using it in Jawad’s case — to delay habeas relief. We also believe that the flawed and unconstitutional military commissions system should never be revived. So today we filed our brief opposing the government’s motion to dismiss. Check out a new video about the case featuring ACLU National Security Project staff attorney Hina Shamsi:

Please note that by playing this clip You Tube and Google will place a long-term cookie on your computer. Please see You Tube’s privacy statement on their website and Google’s privacy statement on theirs to learn more. To view the ACLU’s privacy statement, click here.

Mohammed Jawad has now spent six years — nearly a third of his life — at Guantánamo, and has been subjected to torture and cruelty there. Six years is a lifetime for anyone, not just a teenager; in this case, justice delayed is truly justice denied.

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