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Guantanamo Uighur detainees seek asylum in Canada

[JURIST] Six detainees from the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] military prison, including three Uighurs, are seeking refugee status in Canada with the support of Canadian sponsors. The Uighurs were last year deemed [Kiyemba v. Bush backgrounder; JURIST report] not to be unlawful enemy combatants [10 U.S.C. § 948a text; JURIST news archive]. Lawyers for the men have said that US authorities have admitted the men were mistakenly picked up, and are ideal candidates for refugee status in Canada. They also have said that the men will face torture or even death if they are allowed to return to China.

The three Uighur detainees are part of a group of 17 whom the US government have determined are not unlawful enemy combatants. They had initially been linked with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], a militant group that seeks to secede from China, and has been designated a terrorist group by the US since 2002. In October, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] ordered the release of the detainees [opinion and order, PDF], writing that the Constitution prohibits detention without cause and that the individual right to freedom outweighs the other governmental branches' right to deny entry to aliens. Judges for the DC circuit court stayed the order [order, PDF; JURIST report] later that month pending appeal. In November, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website] heard oral arguments [JURIST report] on whether the Uighur detainees can be released into the US. China has renewed its demand [JURIST report] for the Uighurs to be repatriated to face charges there.

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