USA: U.S. Supreme Court rules Guantanamo Bay prisoners have the right to challenge their detention before...
- Title: USA: U.S. Supreme Court rules Guantanamo Bay prisoners have the right to challenge their detention before federal jdges; Bush disagrees
- Date: 13th June 2008
- Summary: (W5) WASHINGTON D.C. UNITED STATES (FILE) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT WIDE OF U.S. SUPREME COURTS JUSTICES CLOSE OF U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY (FIRST MAN WITH GLASSES) VARIOUS OTHER JUSTICES
- Reuters ID: LVA8KO8QKJRTO8UK79HT5YX76BX4
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Duration: 00:00:40
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- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: Guantanamo Bay prisoners can go before U.S. federal judges to challenge their years-long detention, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday (June 12) in a landmark decision that delivered a stinging setback to President George W. Bush's administration.
By a 5-4 vote, the nation's highest court struck down the law that Bush pushed through the Republican-led Congress in 2006 that took away the habeas corpus rights of the terrorism suspects to seek full judicial review of their detention.
"We'll abide by the court's decision. That doesn't mean I have to agree with it," Bush told a news conference in Rome, where he was on a weeklong European visit. "We'll study this opinion and we'll do so ... to determine whether or not additional legislation might be appropriate."
In its fourth major ruling rejecting the administration's war-on-terrorism arguments, the Supreme Court restored the detainees' rights under habeas corpus, a long-standing legal right in which individuals can challenge their imprisonment.
Some detainees have been held for six years without any definitive judicial determination of their detention, he said adding that the war on terrorism, which began Sept 11, 2001, has already become among the longest wars in American history.
Justice Anthony Kennedy said Congress had failed to create an adequate alternative for the prisoners held at the U.S. military base in Cuba to contest their detention.
The 2006 law allowed for only a limited review by a U.S. appeals court in Washington of the military's designation of the prisoners as "enemy combatants."
Kennedy said the court's ruling did not address whether Bush has the power to detain the prisoners. He said this and other questions on the legality of their detention must be resolved by the federal judges.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain said he was concerned by the Supreme Court decision. During a news conference in Boston, McCain said the detainees were "unlawful combatants, they are not American citizens".
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which has campaigned for the prisoners' rights, welcomed the ruling, calling it a good step in the right direction but also stressed that the Guantanamo detention centre should be closed immediately.
Jameel Jaffer, Director of National Security Project at ACLU in New York, called the Supreme Court decision an "important" one nevertheless.
"It is the first time that this court has said clearly that prisoners held at Guantanamo have the right to challenge their detention in court, under the constitution and that is important. And it's especially important because the Bush administration in late 2001 and early 2002 made the decision to hold prisoners at Guantanamo precisely because they thought that they could deny prisoners held there the right to challenge their detention so this is something, this decision is something that just pulls the rug out of the administration's central reason for opening up this prison in the first place," Jaffer said.
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- Embargoed:28th June 2008 13:00