30 July 2004
First Review Tribunal Convenes in Guantanamo, Navy Secretary Says
Defense Department Report, July 30: Status review of enemy combatants
The first administrative proceeding to determine whether detainees being held at a U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are "enemy combatants" is under way, Navy Secretary Gordon England announced July 30.
England told reporters at the Defense Department that the first formal review, formally called a Combatant Status Review Tribunal, opened at the U.S. Naval base July 30 after he signed a formal order July 29 to allow 594 detainees the opportunity to present information to challenge their ongoing detention in connection with the global war on terrorism.
The secretary said he would travel to Guantanamo to observe tribunal during the first week of August. He noted that checks and balances are built into the administrative process. "We will have quality control," England said.
The tribunal process will begin slowly, while procedures are refined, and then it will accelerate, according to the secretary. He said there are 40 people in Guantanamo meeting with the detainees and reviewing their records.
England said a tribunal, designed to determine whether an individual is properly or improperly classified as an enemy combatant, "is not a trial." Each detainee will have an opportunity to present information in support of his position.
A July 30 Defense Department news release indicated that detainees will be permitted to review the unclassified information the government has gathered.
England said a small pool of reporters will be allowed to observe the unclassified aspects of the tribunals, but they will not be permitted to identify a detainee by name.
He also said military officials are consulting with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross about "their possible participation as observers."
The official said if a tribunal finds that someone was improperly classified, the individual will be free and the Defense Department will work with the State Department to arrange for the individual to return home.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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