For Immediate Release
Brenda Bowser-Soder, Human Rights First
202-370-3323 | BowserSoderB@humanrightsfirst.org
D.C. Circuit Court to Hear Oral Arguments on Detainee Habeas Case
WASHINGTON - On Monday, the D.C. Circuit Court will hear oral arguments in a landmark case seeking to establish the right of detainees held indefinitely without trial by the United States in Afghanistan to challenge their detention in a United States federal court. Human Rights First submitted an expert statement verifying the lack of due process and argues that the court should confirm that detainees held in indefinite detention by the U.S. government are entitled to a meaningful opportunity to challenge their detention under the law. The government has so far denied them the right to habeas corpus provided by the U.S. Constitution.
“The current hearings provided to detainees by the U.S. military in Afghanistan are completely inadequate,” said Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar, who observed U.S. military hearings, known as Detainee Review Board hearings, held at the Bagram Air Base last year. “The men are not given an opportunity to make their case to a neutral judge, they’re not allowed to have legal representation, and they don’t even get to see the evidence against them. The process fails to meet the minimum requirements of fairness established in international law.”
Following Eviatar’s trip to Afghanistan, Human Rights First released a report based on the U.S. military hearings in Bagram. The report, Detained and Denied in Afghanistan, concluded that the U.S. government’s review procedure did not meet the minimum requirements of international law. Eviatar has submitted a declaration documenting the inadequacies of the Detainee Review Board hearings in support of the petitioners in the case being heard on Monday, Al Maqaleh v. Obama. The detainee petitioners are represented by the International Justice Network and law clinics at Yale Law School and the City University of New York.
“Although the United States has agreed to transfer Afghan prisoners to the Afghan government’s authority, the U.S. government will continue to retain control over non-Afghans at Bagram,” said Eviatar. “It’s time for the D.C. Circuit to grant them this most basic of human rights, the right to a fair hearing.”
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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.