08 July 2004
U.S. Will Permit Enemy Detainees at Guantanamo to Seek Review
Defense Department Report, July 8: Review Panel Created
The U.S. Defense Department will permit the 594 detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, to contest their enemy-combatant status.
"The Department of Defense announced today the formation of the Combatant Status Review Tribunal for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This tribunal will serve as a forum for detainees to contest their status as enemy combatants," the Pentagon said July 7.
Within 10 days, the prisoners will be informed of their new rights, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that permits a review of their cases in U.S. federal courts, through a written statement in their native language.
"The tribunal process will start as soon as possible," the Pentagon said. "Detainees will also be notified of their right to a writ of habeas corpus [a writ ordering a person in custody to be brought before a federal court]."
A tribunal will be comprised of three neutral U.S. military officers, of whom none is involved with the individual detainee. One of the tribunal members will be a judge advocate; the senior ranking officer will serve as the president of the tribunal.
"Each detainee will be assigned a military officer as a personal representative [but who is not a lawyer]," the Pentagon said. "That officer will assist the detainee in preparing for a tribunal hearing. Detainees will have the right to testify before the tribunal, call witnesses, and introduce any other evidence.
"Following the hearing of testimony and other evidence, the tribunal will determine in a closed-door session whether the detainee is properly held as an enemy combatant."
The Pentagon said that any detainee who is found not to be an enemy combatant would be transferred to his native country or given other disposition consistent with domestic and international obligations and U.S. foreign policy.
The military review panels will be monitored by Navy Secretary Gordon England.
These measures, the Pentagon said, do not replace existing administrative reviews that are used to determine whether detainees are still a threat to the United States; some of these individuals could be released and sent to their home countries if it is determined they are no longer a threat.
The Pentagon also announced July 8 that a 25-year-old Swedish citizen, Mehdi Ghezali, who had been held at Guantanamo Bay, has been released and returned to Sweden.
During the course of the war on terrorism, Pentagon officials said, there will be other transfers or releases of detainees.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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