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Federal judge extends block on out-of-country transfer of Gitmo detainees

[JURIST] US District Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. [official profile] has extended a temporary restraining order barring the US from transferring Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees to the custody of foreign countries. Judge Kennedy extended the restraining order for another 10 days Tuesday, saying he needs additional time to decide whether the court has authority over the decision to release a detainee to a foreign country, and if it does, whether the detainees' lawyers are entitled to advance notice of the proposed transfer so that the transfer may be contested. When Kennedy makes his decision, this will mark the first time a judge has ruled on whether US courts have jurisdiction to oversee decisions about where to move Gitmo detainees. During yesterday's hearing, Judge Kennedy acknowledged that once a transfer to a foreign country is completed, "the court will not have jurisdiction to provide the relief sought by petitioners." Lawyers for the detainees argued that "the government can't transfer people to defeat a case on appeal," but the government lawyer argued that allowing a court to second-guess the decision to transfer "would in essence be ordering people to continue to be detained when the government says it no longer has an interest in detaining them." Earlier this month, US District Judge Rosemary Collyer blocked out-of-country transfers for 13 Yemeni detainees [JURIST report] pending a hearing on their lawyers' request for 30-days notice to allow investigation of whether they might face torture or indefinite detention in their home countries. Wednesday's Washington Post has more.

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