Military Commissions Appellate Court Reinstates Unfair Tribunals for Guantánamo Detainees

September 25, 2007 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – A military appeals court last night reinstated charges against Canadian citizen and Guantánamo detainee Omar Khadr. The decision by the newly formed court reversed a June ruling by a military judge which found that the tribunal system created by Congress to prosecute certain prisoners held at Guantánamo lacked authority to try detainees not previously determined to be “unlawful enemy combatants.” Monday’s decision found that the commissions themselves can designate a suspect an “unlawful enemy combatant.” Khadr was 15 years old when he was captured.

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project:

“This ruling may be a step forward for the military commissions but it’s a step backwards for the rule of law. While there are prisoners at Guantánamo who should be tried for war crimes, they should be tried under rules that are fair and that will be perceived as fair. The current rules fail this test. They permit the use of secret evidence, allow the introduction of coerced evidence, limit the right of defendants to be represented by counsel of their choosing, and fail to provide any guarantee that proceedings will be completed within a reasonable time. A ruling that allows these tribunals to move forward is nothing to celebrate.”

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