For Immediate Release

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Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666;

ACLU at Guantánamo to Observe Military Commissions Proceedings

Canadian Omar Khadr Pledges o Boycott His Trial in the Unfair and Unjust System

GUANTANÁMO BAY, Cuba - The American Civil Liberties Union is at Guantánamo this week to observe the pretrial proceedings of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who has been in U.S. custody since 2002 for war crimes allegedly committed when he was 15. The ACLU strongly believes that terrorism cases should be tried in federal criminal courts and that the military commissions are unable to deliver reliable justice and should be shut down for good.

After a military commissions judge today refused Khadr's request to defend himself, Khadr told the court that he would boycott the rest of his proceedings. In a statement he read before the court, Khadr called the military commissions system unfair and unjust and said that it was constructed to "convict detainees, not to find the truth." If Khadr's trial goes forward as planned in August, the U.S. will become the first nation since World War II to prosecute someone for alleged war crimes committed as a child.

The following can be attributed to Jennifer Turner, Human Rights Researcher with the ACLU, who is at Guantánamo observing the proceedings:

"The Obama administration should shut down the illegitimate military commissions system that has become a stain on our nation's reputation and prosecute terrorism suspects in the time-tested federal criminal courts. The commissions system is unfit to try any Guantánamo detainee, especially an alleged child soldier who has been held in U.S. custody for over a third of his life and subjected to years of abuse. Omar Khadr, like all Guantánamo terrorism suspects, should be tried in federal courts that guarantee due process. If that isn't possible, the U.S. must send him home to Canada."


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