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Some Prisoners at Bagram AFB, Afghanistan May Challenge Detention
Last week a federal judge ruled that some prisoners held by the US military at Bagram Air Base prison in Afghanistan have the right to challenge their imprisonment. There are more than 600 people being held at the Bagram prison in Afghanistan without charges.
The federal ruling does not apply to prisoners captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Citizenship and location of the capture will determine if prisoners could challenge their detention in court.
Tina Foster, the executive director of the International Justice Network said that the Bagram ruling meant that changes to the Bush detention policies would go beyond merely closing Guantánamo and extend “to any place where the United States seeks to hold individuals in a legal black hole.”
Attorney Tina Foster:
- Filed writ of habeas corpus for the 4 detainees to challenge their detentions.
- Judge Bates: The US cannot manipulate the jurisdiction of the courts by holding people deliberately in places where the courts have not traditionally exercised jurisdiction.
- Bagram is the main military base in Afghanistan, it was an old Soviet air hangar, that’s where they’ve established a prison.
- 600 in Bagram prison
- There are other coalition forces at Bagram AFB with military presence, but as “guests” of the US.
- US Government: Unlike Guantanamo, Bagram is in the middle of a war zone.
- Bagram was the original Guantanamo, a lot of the people at Guantanamo first spent time at Bagram.
- A few years ago, working with you Michael (Ratner) one of the happy tasks I had, was to travel all over the world, contacting the families of the detainees at Guantanamo. It also became clear that there were people locked up in other places besides Guantanamo.
- Shockingly, the Obama Administration has adopted the Bush Administration policy on Bagram. All of their legal arguments, all of their secrecy, still deciding not to disclose any information.
- What has been different than the Bush Administration, is that when Obama signed orders to close Guantanamo, he set up a task force to look at detainee policy more broadly. That report is due in July.
Guest – Tina Monshipour Foster is the founder and Executive Director of the International Justice Network (IJN), and serves as lead counsel in several of IJN’s legal cases on behalf detainees imprisoned without charge at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Ms. Foster’s work on behalf of prisoners and other victims of human rights violations has been featured in major media outlets in the US and abroad, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Harper’s Magazine, Smithsonian, Al Jazeera channel, and others.
From November 2004 to May 2006, Ms. Foster was an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Counsel for CCR’s Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative. Prior to joining CCR, she was a litigation associate at Clifford Chance US LLP and previously served as a law clerk for Hon. Delissa A. Ridgway at the United States Court of International Trade. Ms. Foster is a graduate of Cornell Law School, where she was an editor of the Cornell International Law Journal.
Guantanamo Bay Prison Update
Today we talk with Emi MacLean, staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights to get an update, an impression of where things stand with Guantanamo Bay prisoners, their status of Habeas Corpus, and the Obama administration’s position. There are also 17 innocent Chinese Muslims called Uighurs asking again for their release. Our guest Emi MacLean has worked with the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative and other forms of executive detention, including secret prisons and transfers to torture.
Attorney Emi MacLean:
More Guantanamo prisoners have left in the last weeks of the Bush Administration then the first 100 days of the Obama Administration.
240 people at Guantanamo right now. Approximately 20 Guantanamo prisoners will face any prosecution.
We’ve held more than 775 people at Guantanamo
The people at Guantanamo right now are not there because of some greater threat assessment, they are there because of their country of nationality.
Almost all the Europeans were released early on, almost all the Yemenis remain behind.
A federal district judge ordered the release of the Uighers last October, the Bush Administration challenged the release.
We asked the Obama Administration to drop the challenge; they have yet to do so.
I remember seeing civil liberties groups celebrating the executive order calling for the closure of Guantanamo in one year. But nothing has really changed for the reality of those men in Guantanamo. This is a consistent devaluation of the life of the men imprisoned there.
We’ve seen the Obama Administration lawyers refuse to back away from the Bush Administration’s position on states secrets.
It’s very hard for people to give up power.
What makes our work difficult, is that it usually takes a couple of weeks for our communications to clear. The communication between counsels on what the Guantanamo conditions are.
The Obama Review Team determined that the conditions at Guantanamo complied with Geneva Convention, which was certainly not what we were hearing and certainly not what we were seeing.
The overwhelming majority of the men at Guantanamo were still in brutal conditions of solitary confinement and still reporting severe psychological and religious abuses at Guantanamo.
No middle ground, these men should be tried or released.
Guest – Attorney Emi MacLean has worked at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) with the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative (GGJI) since June 2006. She works on issues related to Guantánamo and other forms of executive detention, including secret prisons and transfers-to-torture. She helps coordinate the pro bono attorneys representing the hundreds of men still detained at Guantánamo and supports CCR’s direct representation of a number of current detainees.
In addition, Emi is involved in civil actions brought on behalf of former prisoners released from Guantánamo (Rasul v. Rumsfeld and Celikgogus v. Rumsfeld) and actions under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) challenging the government’s refusal to disclose information about the NSA’s warrantless surveillance of Guantánamo attorneys (Wilner v. NSA) and the CIA’s secret detention program (Amnesty International, CCR, et al. v. CIA). In addition to direct litigation, Emi’s work with CCR includes legislative and international advocacy.
Emi has previously worked or volunteered with the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Human Rights First, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Prior to law school, Emi worked with South Africa’s National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL), and Médecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders). Emi graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and Georgetown University Law Center.