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US Court Decision on Guantanamo Receives International Praise

29 June 2006

World reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling involving military tribunals for detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay facility was predominantly positive.

Washington lawyer Gene Fidell, who has worked on cases involving Guantanamo detainees, says the treatment of prisoners of the war on terrorism has increasingly drawn international criticism, even from close U.S. allies. "Our co-partner in the coalition in Iraq, the UK, has grown increasingly vocal on the subject. Other friendly powers have, as well," he said

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, America's strongest ally in the war on terror, had no immediate reaction to the court ruling that the proposed military tribunals violate U.S. and international law. But Britain's top justice official, Attorney General Peter Goldsmith has criticized Guantanamo, calling it a symbol of injustice.

Europe's premier human rights watchdog, the 46-nation Council of Europe, issued a statement calling the ruling a "victory for justice in the campaign against error, ineptitude and hypocrisy." The statement called on the United States to use the decision as an opportunity to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Base, Cuba.

The Supreme Court ruled that military tribunals are illegal under U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions, which govern international treatment of prisoners of war, in a case brought by Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former bodyguard and driver for Osama bin Laden.

British lawyer Zachary Katz-Nelson, of the London-based human rights group, Reprieve, said this judgment will have significant implications. "And the Court made clear that the Geneva Conventions today applies to anyone who is made a prisoner, in the war on terror. Anywhere around the world, the Geneva Convention will apply, no matter if they're al Qaida, no matter what their background is," he said.

Lawyers for terror suspects from Australia and Germany, who are among the more than 400 people being held at Guantanamo, praised the ruling.

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