RealNews

UN expert warns over Cuban base

A US court ruling that suspected Taliban and al-Qaida fighters held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba have no right to hearings in American courts could set a dangerous precedent, a UN expert said yesterday. The UN special expert on the independence of judges and lawyers, Param Cumaraswamy, said the prisoners’ detention without trial offended against the first principle of the rule of law. On Tuesday, the appeal court in the District of Columbia ruled that the men had no legal rights in the US. It was a victory for the Bush administration, which plans to hold the men indefinitely for interrogation, and then either send them home or put them before military tribunals. If the 650 Guantanamo inmates were detained subject to the US system, they would have access to lawyers and could only be held for a short time before being charged or released. Mr Cumaraswamy said the ruling “appears to imply that a government of a sovereign state could lease a piece of land from a neighbouring state, set up a detention camp, fully operate and control it, arrest suspects of terrorism from other jurisdictions, send them to this camp, and deny them their legal rights – including principles of due process generally granted to its own citizens – on the grounds that the camp is physically outside its jurisdiction”. “The war on terrorism cannot possibly be won by denial of legal rights, including fundamental principles of due process of those merely suspected of terrorism,” Mr Cumaraswamy said. Full Story

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