The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brenda Bowser Soder,,O -202/370-3323, C - 301/906-4460

Leading Rights Group Lauds Obama's Decision to Indict


Human Rights First commends the Obama Administration's decision to
end Ali Saleh Kahlah al Marri's illegitimate imprisonment without
criminal charge for five years as an 'enemy combatant.'

"Yesterday's announcement that al Marri will instead face criminal
charges in the tried and true federal criminal justice system is
welcome news. That's where this case started and that's where it should
end," said Deborah Colson, Acting Director of the Law & Security
Program at Human Rights First. "The federal courts have proven to be
highly adaptive and flexible in delivering justice in complex terrorism
cases. There was never any need - nor was there any legal authority -
to label al Marri an 'enemy combatant' and hold him in military
detention without criminal charge."

Over the past year, Human Rights First has been at the forefront of
a national debate over the fitness of federal courts to handle
terrorism cases. In May 2008, the organization released a report, In Pursuit of Justice,
written by two former federal prosecutors, examining more than 120
international terrorism cases prosecuted in the federal criminal
justice system. Using case-specific examples, the report found that
existing laws cover a broad spectrum of terrorism-related crimes and,
in the vast majority of cases, provide an effective basis for
detaining, monitoring and prosecuting terrorist suspects.

"President Obama has repeatedly stated his intention to employ the
existing criminal justice system rather than ad hoc systems such as the
military commissions," added Colson. "The executive order closing
Guantanamo, which stated a preference for federal court prosecutions,
was a first step. The al Marri indictment is yet another indication
that President Obama is sticking to his pledge."

Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.