April 21, 2011

Military Commissions Unfit To Try Death Penalty Cases, Says ACLU

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – The Obama administration announced today that it will use the Guantánamo military commissions system to try Abd al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad al-Nashiri, who is accused of planning the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. The chief military commissions prosecutor has recommended that the charges against al-Nashiri be capital, meaning that they could result in the death penalty. According to news reports, much of the evidence that will be used to prosecute al-Nashiri is based on hearsay or is circumstantial, and would be inadmissible in a federal court.

The American Civil Liberties Union has long called for an end to the broken military commissions and for terrorism suspects to be prosecuted in our federal criminal courts, which have a proven track record of successfully completing terrorism cases.

The following can be attributed to Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

“We are deeply disturbed that the Obama administration has chosen to use the military commissions to try a capital case in which much of the evidence is reportedly based on hearsay and therefore not reliable enough to be admissible in federal court. Allowing hearsay is a backdoor way of allowing evidence that may have been obtained through torture.

“All of our concerns about the inherent unfairness of the military commissions are compounded in cases like this one, in which the result could be death. The Constitution and international law rightly require enhanced protections in death penalty cases, but the military commissions are incapable of providing those necessary protections.

“The prosecution of this case has already been held up for years, and now it is sure to face several more years of legal challenges and delays, and result in an outcome that won’t be seen as legitimate. This case and the rest of the Guantánamo cases belong in the federal courts.”

 

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