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UN rights rapporteur: Guantanamo detainees should be tried or released

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin [official website] said Monday that all Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees should be brought before US federal courts for trial [recorded video] by the January 22 deadline for closure set by US President Barack Obama [official profile]. Scheinin said that the detainees should not be held indefinitely and that if they cannot be brought to the US for trial then they should be released. In response to a question about the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison, Scheinin said:

My position on the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center is that it should be closed along the timeline announced by President Obama when he took office and that it should not be closed through trying and sentencing people through the military commissions because my assessment of the Military Commissions Act is very negative, and I don't think small fixes will help in making it compatible with the international standards of human rights or to that matter United States constitutional law. So what results from this is that there should be a division between persons who can be tried and they should be tried before proper courts - United States Federal courts within the territory of United States proper, and those who will not be tried, they should be released one way or the other.

Also Monday, Obama reiterated his plans to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay during his address at a congressional fundraiser in Miami, although he did not include his original January 2010 deadline as the proposed closure time.

Last week, the US Senate voted [JURIST report] 79-19 in favor of a bill permitting Guantanamo Bay detainees to be brought to the US for trial after members of the Homeland Security Appropriations Conference Committee [list, PDF] reached an agreement [JURIST report] earlier this month. The agreement came shortly after US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] told reporters that Congressional opposition may cause the Obama administration to miss its January deadline for closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, echoing prior statements [JURIST reports] by top administration officials. Also this month, Congress passed a bill amending [JURIST report] the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [text, PDF] to provide suspected terrorists with greater due process rights.

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