The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Friday that a lower court was correct in dismissing the claim for damages brought by Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak Al Janko, a former Guantanamo detainee, on jurisdictional grounds. The court based its decision on an interpretation of Section 7 of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) [text, PDF], which creates a broad definition of "unlawful enemy combatant" and limits the availability of judicial review for non-citizens who fit this definition and are held in US custody. The court of appeals affirmed the district court ruling on Friday, stating that Congress has constitutional authority to withhold jurisdiction pursuant to the MCA, and the legislature expressly prohibited lawsuits of this type when the statue was enacted. Al Janko, a native of Syria, was imprisoned by Taliban forces in Afghanistan in 2000. Following the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, the Afghan government liberated the prison but US forces identified Al Janko as an "enemy combatant" and transferred him to Guantanamo in May 2002. A district court granted his release [JURIST report] in 2009 after the prisoner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Al Janko brought a suit for damages in the US District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2011 for alleged torturous acts during a seven-and-a-half year stay in the prison, and the court dismissed the lawsuit [JURIST report].
The treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST feature] has raised humanitarian concerns internationally and in recent months the US has grappled [JURIST op-ed] with the complexities of the laws of war and the legal rights of due process for detainees. Earlier in January the panel review board (PRB) administered by the US Department of Defense (DoD) under Executive Order 13567 [text] concluded its first review and cleared [JURIST report] a former Guantanamo detainee for transfer to Yemen. A week prior three Uighur Muslim detainees were transferred to Slovakia and in December of last year two Guantanamo detainees were transferred to Saudi Arabia [JURIST reports]. Also last December, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit affirmed [JURIST report] a denial of a writ of habeas corpus for a Guantanamo detainee.