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UN rights chief criticizes US ruling on MCA habeas-stripping provisions

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile] Wednesday criticized a US federal appeals court ruling [PDF text; JURIST report] supporting Congressional legislation denying "enemy combatants" the right to challenge their detentions in federal court. In a press conference [recorded video; summary] Wednesday, Arbour expressed concern at "insufficient judicial supervision," saying:

I hope we will see the American judicial system rise to its long-standing reputation as a guardian of fundamental human rights and civil liberties and provide the protection to all that are under the authority, control, and, therefore, in my view, jurisdiction, of the United States.
The federal appeals court decision handed down last week upheld provisions in the Military Commissions Act [PDF text; JURIST news archive] stripping foreign nationals held as "enemy combatants" of the right to file habeas corpus petitions challenging their detentions. Arbour said that it was "absolutely critical" that detainees have "access to court with appropriately supported legal advice" and lamented that detainees at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] have "no credible mechanism to ascertain the validity of ... suspicions or allegations." AP has more. Aljazeera has additional coverage.

In its ruling last week, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit dismissed the habeas petitions of hundreds of Guantanamo detainees. Two detainees filed a motion for expedited review [PDF text; JURIST report] Tuesday, asking the US Supreme Court to consider the habeas-stripping provision of the MCA during its current term.

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