December 5, 2007

Guantanamo prisoners case

The US Supreme Court began considering the right of Guantanamo prisoners to challenge their detention in civilian courts, in a landmark case over "war on terror" detainee rights. The case, which has drawn attention from rights activists and governments around the world, centers on whether it is constitutionally legal for the US Congress to block detainees from attempting to fight their detentions in non-military courts. It is the most important case of the decade.

The Supreme Court took up the issue of Guantanamo inmates in 2004 and again in 2006, ruling both times those detainees had a statutory -- legal but not constitutional -- right to contest their indefinite detention before an independent judge, a legal process known as habeas corpus. But, urged by the Bush administration, last year Congress passed new legislation that forbid them from seeking justice in a federal court until they are judged by a special military tribunal.

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