Thursday, June 29, 2006

CCR Lauds Supreme Court Victory in Hamdan V. Rumsfeld and Calls For Fair Trials and Closure of Guantánamo

Attorneys for Guantánamo Detainees Say Decision Vindicates Five-Year Legal Struggle and Will Force Bush Administration to Provide Fair U.S. Trials or Release Detainees

NEW YORK - June 29 - Today the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) declared the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld as a significant victory for the Constitution, fairness and due process, vindicating the Center's five-year legal fight for due process and human rights against the Bush Administration's illegal detention policies. CCR filed two amicus briefs in the case, which is the first Guantánamo case to reach the Court since its June 2004 decision in Rasul v. Bush, which CCR brought and won.

"The Supreme Court has firmly rejected President Bush's attempt to sidestep American courts. Now the President must act: try our clients in lawful U.S. courts or release them. The game is up. There is no way for President Bush to continue hiding behind a purported lack of judicial guidance to avoid addressing the illegal and immoral prison in Guantánamo Bay. Significantly, the Court decided that the Geneva Conventions apply to the so-called 'War on Terror' - people must be treated humanely and the administration cannot put itself above the law," said CCR President Michael Ratner. "We are gratified that the Court accepted our argument that fundamental human rights are protected by the Geneva Conventions, and this decision vindicates our five-year legal struggle," he added.

Mr. Hamdan is a detainee who was designated to be tried before a military commission in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. His lawsuit challenges the President's authority to establish military commissions in the absence of specific congressional action, and it also challenges the trial proceedings as violating the Constitution, U.S. military law, and the Geneva Conventions. CCR filed two amicus briefs in support of Mr. Hamdan's case, arguing that the administration's military commission system "violate the well-established norms of international humanitarian law" such as the Geneva Conventions, and challenging the legality of the Detainee Treatment Act. (The first brief was filed jointly with pro bono attorneys representing hundreds of detainees at Guantánamo, and the second was filed jointly with Human Rights First and FIDH.)

CCR Legal Director Bill Goodman explained the significance of today's ruling in light of CCR's 2004 victory in Rasul v. Bush: "Ever since we won the 2004 Supreme Court decision requiring due process at Guantánamo, the administration has been evading the decision, breaking American law and undermining America's stature in the process. Today the Court firmly rejected President Bush's unlawful and immoral Guantánamo policies, and I hope we can begin rebuilding due process and respect for human rights in our legal system."


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