Analysis: The Fate of Guantanamo's Inmates
Council on Foreign Relations
July 10, 2007
Prepared by: Lionel Beehner
The inmates are pressing for the right of habeas corpus, as NPR reports, to challenge their detention before U.S. federal courts. Last fall Congress voted to strip the detainees of their habeas rights. The High Court’s later decision to reverse itself and review these cases—that is, to decide whether it is constitutional to detain them indefinitely without charge or legal counsel—has some human rights advocates hopeful. But Brookings’ Benjamin Wittes warns that without clearer legal procedures in place, these detainees may just be shifted to some other detention facility overseas with even less scrutiny than Guantanamo (i.e. naval vessels in international waters or CIA-run “black” prisons). Moreover, he writes, “making legal detentions too legally cumbersome creates an incentive not to capture the enemy but to kill him.”
Even if their habeas petitions are heard, these detainees must prove they are not “unlawful enemy combatants”—belligerents not entitled to legal protections under international law—before a Combatant Status Review Tribunal, or CSRT.
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