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US: Supreme Court to Review Restrictions on Access to Court for Guantanamo Detainees

Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. US amicus brief

On December 5, 2007, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a challenge to the Military Commissions Act of 2006. At stake are provisions in the law that prohibit the 330 Guantanamo Bay detainees – and any other non-citizen the president declares to be an “enemy combatant” – from seeking judicial review of the factual and legal basis for their detention under the age-old writ of habeas corpus.

In this amicus brief, Human Rights Watch joins a bipartisan coalition of human rights and civil rights groups to urge the Supreme Court to strike down the habeas-stripping provisions in the Military Commissions Act. The brief argues that the “Great Writ” of habeas corpus provides an independent check over the executive’s decision to detain, thus ensuring the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution and protecting against the creation of “law-free” zones. The brief also argues that meaningful court oversight over those detained at Guantanamo Bay will help ensure that no person is wrongfully held there.

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