Obama Administration to Provide More Opportunity for Bagram Detainees to Challenge Their Detention

September 13, 2009 12:00 am

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Government Should Make Public Information About Detainees In U.S. Custody At Afghan Prison, Says ACLU

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

NEW YORK – The government has announced it will issue new guidelines giving detainees held in U.S. custody at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan more opportunity to challenge their detention. The guidelines would reportedly assign military officials to detainees to gather information about the circumstances of their detention, which could then be used to challenge their detention before a military-appointed review board.

In April, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking the Obama administration to make public records pertaining to the detention and treatment of prisoners held at Bagram. The government has not yet turned over the records.

The following can be attributed to Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:

“The Defense Department’s commitment to give prisoners held at Bagram more procedural rights is encouraging, especially since some of the prisoners held there have now been imprisoned for six years without access to lawyers, without charge or trial, and without any meaningful opportunity to challenge their detention. We look forward to seeing the details of the new policy; until then, it is difficult to assess how meaningful a change it represents.

“We remain concerned, however, about the level of secrecy that surrounds Bagram. The public remains uninformed of basic facts such as who is imprisoned there, how long they have been held, where they were captured and on what grounds they are being subjected to indefinite detention. The government should make public documents that could shed light on this crucial information about the detention and treatment of prisoners at Bagram.

“We also remain deeply concerned that Bagram is being used not only as a battlefield detention facility but as a prison to hold terrorism suspects apprehended all over the world. While moves to give prisoners a better chance to contest their prolonged detention in a military forum are encouraging, the Obama administration’s continued efforts to block Bagram prisoners’ access to U.S. courts remains disappointing.”

More information about the ACLU’s FOIA request is online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/detention/39442prs20090423.html

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