United States’ U-turn on trial forum for 9/11 suspects betrays human rights

05 April 2011

USA: U-turn on trial forum for 9/11 suspects betrays human rights

US Attorney General Eric Holder announced yesterday that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other detainees held at the US Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay in Cuba and accused in connection with the attacks in the USA on 11 September 2001 will be tried by a military commission rather than in an ordinary federal court.

The Obama administration’s attempts to bring the accused to trial before ordinary civilian courts have been blocked by Congress, which has sought to further entrench a legal doctrine of pervasive and perpetual “war” as the primary basis for US counter-terrorism efforts.

“The announcement that the USA will again resort to military tribunals to try individuals accused of terrorism, when civilian courts could clearly be used, is a betrayal of international fair trial standards”, Rob Freer, Amnesty International’s US researcher.

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The Response film and dialogue

The City of Portland Office of Human Relations has a monthly event called Human Rights Film and Dialogue Series that is held on the 4th Wednesday of each month. AIUSA Group 48 will be a partner for the event in September to showcase The Response — a courtroom drama based on the actual transcripts of Guantanamo Bay military tribunals. After the film, the Office of Human Relations staff will lead a dialogue with Federal Public Defender, Steven Wax and adjunct professor of Lewis and Clark Law School, Travis Hall.

Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Time: 5:30–8:00PM

Location: Office of Human Relations, 5315 N Vancouver Ave, Portland

Steven Wax is a Federal Public Defender for the District of Oregon. He and his team successfully worked to free six men formerly held as enemy combatants in Guantanamo. He is the author of the book, Kafka Comes to America: Fighting for Justice in the War on Terror – A Public Defender’s Inside Account.

Travis Hall is a former Army interrogator and Arabic linguist who later served as an Army Judge Advocate (“JAG”). He practices law in Portland for the firm Bateman Seidel and is an adjunct professor of international law and national security law & policy at Lewis and Clark College Law School.

Mohammed Odaini cleared for release from Guantánamo

From age 18 to 26, Mohammed Mohammed Hassan Odaini has been detained at Guantánamo without charge or trial. But about a week ago, the Obama administration finally said that it would release him back to his home country of Yemen!

For years, Amnesty International supporters have taken action for Odaini – writing countless letters and emails, holding vigils and demonstrations, organizing film screenings, meeting with elected officials and gathering petition signatures.

Mohammed Mohammed Hassan OdainiIn fact, this past year, more than 12,000 people joined the Global Write-a-thon to write letters on behalf of Odaini and other individuals at risk of severe human rights violations. In addition, Amnesty International USA Local Group 50 in Chicago, Local Group 139 in Wisconsin and Local Group 708 in Massachusetts adopted Odaini’s case. Together, our voices made all the difference. And now, Mohammed Odaini is going home.

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Zip code change for Guantanamo

December 15, 2009

Amnesty International Says President Obama
Just Changed the Zip Code for Guantanamo

Human rights organization concerned about the fate of
detainees who continue to be held without charge

(Washington) – Tom Parker, Amnesty International USA policy director for (counter) terrorism and human rights, issued the following statement in response to the Obama administration’s decision to relocate some of the detainees in the U.S.-controlled detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the Thomsom Correctional Center in Illinois:

“The detainees who are currently scheduled to be relocated to Thomsom have not been charged with any crime. In seven years, the U.S. government including, the CIA and FBI, have not produced any evidence against these individuals that can be taken to a court of law.”

“The only thing that President Obama is doing with this announcement is changing the Zip Code of Guantanamo.”

“A fundamental principle of the rule of law is that people cannot be held without charge or trial. The founding fathers knew it, the greatest generation fought for it, candidate Obama campaigned for it and the president needs to remember it.”

AI’s response to Uighur detainees transferred to Bermuda

Amnesty International
15 June 2009
AI Index: AMR 51/076/2009

USA: Human rights must transcend party politics

On 11 June 2009 four Uighur detainees held without charge or trial in the US Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba since 2002 were transferred to Bermuda. Their transfer came more than eight months after a US federal judge ruled their detention unlawful and ordered their immediate release into the USA. The USA accepted that the detainees could not be returned to China, their country of origin, because of the risk of torture and execution that they would face there, but failed to release them into the USA as even a temporary measure while it sought a third country solution.

Amnesty International welcomes Bermuda’s acceptance of these four men, as it brings an end to their unlawful detention and offers them the chance to begin to rebuild their lives. It calls on all parties with interest or influence over this situation not to jeopardize the human rights of these men or their ability to get on with their future, until now put on hold.

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