UN rights expert urges US to prosecute or release Guantanamo prisoners

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin [official website] called on the US in a report [DOC text] released Monday to quickly prosecute or release terror suspects detained at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] so that the US can close the detention center. Scheinin paid an official visit to the United States in May after receiving permission from US officials [JURIST report] to examine US detention practices, although he was not allowed to interview Guantanamo detainees in private. In Monday's report, an addendum to a larger report [DOC text; press release] to the UN General assembly on human rights and counter-terrorism efforts worldwide, Scheinin also recommended:

  • that legislative amendments be made to remove the denial of habeas corpus rights under the Military Commissions Act 2006 and the restrictions upon the ability of Guantánamo Bay detainees to seek full judicial review of their combatant status, with the authority of the reviewing court to order release...;
  • that other States be willing to receive persons currently detained at Guantánamo Bay. The United States and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees should work together to establish a joint process by which detainees can be resettled in accordance with international law, including refugee law and the principle of non-refoulement...;
  • that [military commissions] be disestablished. Wherever possible, ordinary civilian courts should be used to try terrorist suspects...;
  • [that the United States] ensure that all its officials and agencies comply with international standards, including the article 7 of ICCPR, the Convention against Torture and, in the context of an armed conflict, common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions...;
  • [that the US government] take transparent steps to ensure that the CIA practice of “extraordinary rendition” is discontinued and is not conducted in the future...;
  • that all detainees are held in accordance with international human rights standards, including the requirement that all detainees be held in regularized facilities, that they be registered, that they be allowed contact with the outside world (lawyers, International Committee of the Red Cross, where applicable, and family), and that any form of detention is subject to accessible and effective court review, which entails the possibility of release...;
  • [that the US government] restrict definitions of “international terrorism”, “domestic terrorism” and “material support to terrorist organizations” in a way that is precise and restricted to the type of conduct identified by the Security Council as conduct to be suppressed in the fight against terrorism...[and ensure] that it does not participate in the extrajudicial execution of any person, including terrorist suspects.
Last year, Scheinin said US officials have been stonewalling investigations [JURIST report] into allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) flew terrorism suspects through Europe to countries where they could be tortured. He also expressed concern [JURIST report] that the US Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) [text; JURIST news archive] would lead to lower worldwide standards regarding interrogation techniques and trial procedures for noncitizen detainees. AP has more.

 

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