US allows Bagram detainees to challenge detention
The move will affect some of the 600 prisoners at the Afghanistan airbase. But they will not have access to lawyers or US courts.
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Human-rights activists and legal experts had mixed responses to the new rules, Inter Press Service reports. In particular, they are concerned about the failure to provide legal counsel.Skip to next paragraph
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Tina Monshipour Foster, executive director of the International Justice Network (IJN), a legal advocacy group that represents four Bagram detainees in a pending federal court case, called the proposed changes "a step in the wrong direction".
She told Inter Press Service, "No set of procedures will have legitimacy until there is transparency and accountability for any violations of the military's own rules. Preventing the accused from having contact with his lawyer is antithetical to any legitimate system of justice."
Blogging for The New Yorker, Amy Davidson takes issue with the US government's argument that Bagram will be an important site for holding terror suspects after the closure of the facility at Guantánamo Bay.
So closing Guantánamo increases the need for a new Guantánamo, and barring the use of secret prisons just means that you need to find a new place to stash secret prisoners? Have we had it with Guantánamo because it's unfashionable—like a played-out spring-break destination, now overrun with journalists and human-rights lawyers hopping on planes in Florida – or because we actually don't like extrajudicial, indefinite detention?
Last month the American Civil Liberties Union asked the administration why President Barack Obama was not making information about Bagram detainees public, ABC News reported . The ACLU criticized the process available to Bagram prisoners to challenge their detention at that time, describing the air base as "Obama's Guantanamo."
"Bagram prisoners reportedly receive an even less robust and meaningful process for challenging their detention and designation as 'enemy combatants' than the process afforded prisoners at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay ('Guantanamo') - a process the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional last year," wrote Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU's national security project.
The Pentagon says that the new procedures that provide detainees with official representatives is a step in the right direction as it will "ultimately reduce the detainee population by ensuring that we are only holding those that are the most dangerous threats," according to Agence France-Presse.