International bar associations call for ‘immediate closure’ of Guantanamo News
International bar associations call for ‘immediate closure’ of Guantanamo

[JURIST] Leaders of 34 international bar associations and law societies called for the "immediate closure" of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in a letter [PDF text] released Monday. The letter, addressed to US President George W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said:

Few governmental operations in democratic countries have shown such a profound disrespect for the rule of law. Guantanamo Bay has come to signify injustice for some at the hands of the powerful. The rule of law – that everyone, including governments, is subject to the law, and that the law itself is fair and free from the influence of arbitrary power – has become an inconvenient afterthought.

The letter contains a particular appeal for Canadian Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive], who has spent five years without trial in Guantanamo. The bar leaders called for Khadr to be "transferred immediately into the custody of Canadian law enforcement officials, to face due process under Canadian law and the principles of the rule of law." The signatories, including the Canadian Bar Association, the Bar Council of England & Wales, the Australian Bar Association [profession websites] and many others, said that all Guantanamo detainees should be tried by a "properly constituted court operating under rules that guarantee a fair trial." AFP has more.

The Bush administration has been facing growing pressure [JURIST report] to close down the Guantanamo facility. In October 2007, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin [official website] called on the US to quickly prosecute or release terror suspects [UN report, DOC; JURIST report] detained at Guantanamo so that the US could close the detention center. President Bush himself said in August 2007 that he wants to shut down [JURIST report] the detention facility, but indicated that other countries have shown reluctance to accept detainees.