Monday, April 30, 2007

CCR and 75 Pro Bono Counsel For Guantanamo Detainees Meet With Members of Congress to Restore Legal Rights

Restore Habeas Corpus Day - May 1
Press Conference Details To Follow

WASHINGTON and NEW YORK - April 30 - On Tuesday, May 1, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and 75 attorneys from across the country will travel to Capitol Hill to lobby Congress to reverse provisions of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) that deprived the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus claims by Guantánamo detainees. The MCA bars all non-U.S. citizens, including legal permanent residents, who have been deemed “enemy combatants” or are awaiting designation as “enemy combatants” from challenging the basis for their detention. The action comes on the heels of recent government attempts to severely limit attorneys’ access to their clients under a new proposed protective order.

“Our clients, like hundreds of others at Guantánamo, have been detained for over five years without a trial or a fair hearing. They have not been charged with any crime. Currently, they are held in cells where they spend 22 to 24 hours a day alone, and their mental health is deteriorating as they have less and less hope of ever seeing justice,” said Vincent Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents many of the detainees at Guantánamo and coordinates the work of nearly 500 pro bono attorneys.

Prior to the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the Supreme Court had found that detainees were entitled to pursue habeas corpus petitions in federal court. The lawyers, who are from private law firms and academia and are working with CCR on a pro bono basis, will ask members of Congress to pass legislation that will take out the MCA’s habeas-stripping provisions and will restore habeas rights and the application of the rule of law at Guantánamo.

May 1 is traditionally Law Day, and the attorneys believe it is an appropriate day to ask members of Congress to pass legislation restoring these rights and to act in accordance with the principles that have formed the bedrock of our democracy since the founding of the U.S. This year, Law Day will be Restore Habeas Corpus Day on Capitol Hill.

The group plans to hold a press briefing on Tuesday, May 1, on Capitol Hill, time and place to be determined: an updated advisory will be distributed later today.


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