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Federal judge rejects jurisdiction over Guantanamo force-feeding case

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] denied [opinion, PDF] Tuesday a petition by two Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees to stop the force-feeding imposed on them during their hunger strike, ruling that the court lacks jurisdiction over the matter. The petitioners, Mohammed Ali Abdullah Bawazir and Omar Khamis Bin Hamdoon, further alleged that their Eighth Amendment [text] rights were being violated because military personnel had begun to administer the feedings rather than medical personnel, and detainees on hunger strike were being denied further medical care until they abandoned the strike. In her memorandum opinion, Judge Gladys Kessler determined that the court lacked jurisdiction under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [text, PDF], which governs detainees' right to habeas corpus, finding that this aspect of the act was unaffected by the US Supreme Court's ruling in Boumediene v. Bush [opinion, PDF; JURIST report]. Kessler also determined that petitioners would most likely be unable to prove that they were treated with deliberate indifference even if the court did not lack jurisdiction.

Last month, the US military announced that the Guantanamo Bay hunger strike has increased to 42 detainees [JURIST report]. Hunger strikes have been an issue at Guantanamo Bay for several years. In January 2007, the number of detainees on strike more than doubled [JURIST report] as the detention center's fifth anniversary approached. In September 2005, the number of detainees on strike [JURIST report] was at least 128. After instituting the force-feeding measures [JURIST report] the number of detainees on strike dwindled to just three or four.

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