Saturday, October 24, 2009
U.S. Supreme Court Will Decide On Whether The Guantanamo Bay Prisoners Can Be Released Into The United States
High court to hear Guantanamo case
By Greg Stohr, Bloomberg News
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether judges can order the release of Guantanamo Bay prisoners into the United States, accepting an inmate appeal opposed by the Obama administration and setting up a separation-of-powers showdown.
The justices said yesterday that they would hear arguments from 13 Chinese Uighurs held without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba since 2002. The federal government, which acknowledges that the Uighurs pose no threat to the United States, has been trying for years to transfer them to another country.
The decision to hear the appeal suggests that the justices may be poised to reinforce rulings that since 2004 have limited the president's power to hold prisoners without judicial review. Kiyemba v. Obama will be the Obama administration's first clash at the Supreme Court over Guantanamo detention policies.
The administration, which urged against a Supreme Court hearing, might still be able to avert it by resettling the men in the next few months. Under the court's normal scheduling procedures, the justices would hear arguments early in 2010.
The Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gurs) are Turkic-speaking Muslims who say they have long been repressed by the Chinese government; U.S. officials have said that returning them to China would subject them to torture or death.
Palau, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, has agreed to accept 12 of them, U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan told the Supreme Court last month. The 13th, Arkin Mahmud, has not been offered a home, his lawyer has told the court. Earlier this year, four other Uighurs were resettled in Bermuda.
White House spokesman Ben LaBolt had no immediate comment. President Obama has pledged to shut down the Guantanamo prison.
The Senate yesterday approved, 79-19, a Homeland Security spending bill that might complicate the case. The bill, which has passed the House and awaits Obama's signature, would allow Guantanamo inmates to be transferred to this country only to face trial.
Earlier this year, a federal appeals panel in Washington ruled 3-0 that a trial judge was wrong to order the Uighurs' release into this country. The panel cited "the ancient principle that a nation-state has the inherent right to exclude or admit foreigners and to prescribe applicable terms and conditions for their exclusion or admission."
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in 2008 that Guantanamo prisoners can challenge their detention in federal court by filing a habeas corpus petition. It said judges considering habeas petitions "must have the power to order the conditional release of an individual unlawfully detained."
Kagan defended the appeals ruling, arguing in court papers: "There is a fundamental difference between ordering the release of a detained alien to permit him to return home or to another country and ordering that the alien be brought to and released in the United States without regard to immigration laws."
The Uighurs contended that the lower-court ruling "subordinates judicial authority to relieve unlawful imprisonment to the discretion of the political branches."
The detainees are from Xinjiang, a Muslim region of China. Most or all were living in a camp in the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan when a U.S. bombing campaign destroyed the camp in 2001. They fled into Pakistan, were captured, and were eventually turned over to U.S. authorities.
The government says most of the captured Uighurs later acknowledged they had gone to the camps for weapons training to help them fight the Chinese government.
Vincent Warren, of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the Uighurs, said: "If President Obama is truly committed to closing Guantanamo, he should help these men restart their lives here in the U.S. If we expect the rest of the world to help us ... , we have to start by taking some responsibility for cleaning it up ourselves."
Barre v. Obama
Mohammed Sulaymon Barre is a Somali refugee who has been imprisoned in Guantánamo for nearly eight years after being abducted from his home in Pakistan by Pakistani authorities. Mr. Barre holds official refugee status granted by the United National High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He lived and worked freely as a refugee in Pakistan for years prior to his detention. He had been living at home with wife when the Pakistani authorities came in the middle of the night for him in early November 2001, soon after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. He is believed to have been sold to the United States for bounty at a time when the United States was offering sizable sums for the handover of purported enemies. Mr. Barre seeks to return to his family in Somaliland, the self-declared independent republic that is stable in an otherwise volatile Somalia. He has never been charged with a crime yet he remains imprisoned. CCR has filed both a habeas petition and petition under the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA) challenging the legality of Mr. Barre’s detention.
On June 26, 2008, less than two weeks after the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Boumediene v. Bush, which granted men detained in Guantánamo Bay the right to challenge their detention through a petition habeas corpus, CCR attorneys filed a habeas petition on behalf of Mohammed Sulaymon Barre in what was one of the first petitions to be filed in the D.C. District Court after Supreme Court’s opinion. Mr. Barre’s case is currently pending in the D.C. District Court. CCR had previously filed a petition on his behalf under the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA).
Mohammed Sulaymon Barre is a Somali refugee who fled Somalia during the civil war in the early 1990s. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) granted Mr. Barre refugee status in Pakistan. In Pakistan, Mr. Barre married and found a job working for a large international money transfer company called Dahabshiil. On November 1, 2001, the Pakistani authorities raided the home Mr. Barre shared with his wife and arrested Mr. Barre in the middle of the night. At the time the Pakistani authorities told Mr. Barre that he was merely being investigated because his work phone number appeared on a list of calls made by members of a suspect charitable organization, Al Wafaa, and he would be released in the morning. Instead, Pakistani officials kept Mr. Barre in their custody for four months. Mr. Barre is believed to have been sold for bounty to the United States at a time when the United States was offering thousands of dollars for the handover of suspected enemies. The extensive use of bounties was confirmed by then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, when he admitted in his autobiography that he received bounties in exchange for the transfer of many men to U.S. custody. Once in the custody of U.S. forces, Mr. Barre was sent to the U.S. military base at Bagram, where U.S. guards abused him and coercively interrogated him before transferring him to Guantánamo.
Mr. Barre has been in custody since November 2001, perhaps the longest imprisonment of any Guantánamo detainee. Mr. Barre is believed to remain in prison today largely because of his nationality. The single most important determinant of whether an individual remains in Guantánamo or has been released is his nationality. Mr. Barre is a refugee from wartorn Somalia, a country to which he cannot safely return. He seeks to return to his family in Somaliland, a self-declared independent republic in northern Somalia which has no official diplomatic relations with the United States.
On August 1, 2007, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a Detainee Treatment Act (DTA) petition on behalf of Mohammed Sulaymon Barre in the D.C. Circuit Court. At that time, Congress had passed legislation which prevented Guantánamo detainees from challenging their detention in the District Court and offered only a very limited review of their detention though an appeal of the Combatant Status Review Tribunal’s (CSRT’s) decision regarding their “enemy combatant” designation. The petition challenged Mr. Barre’s designation as an enemy combatant and included the demand that the U.S. government provide access to critical information and allow CCR attorneys to visit their client. His case represented the intersection of many key issues surrounding the fate of the Guantánamo detainees: faulty hearing processes, the danger faced by many who may be returned to torture in their home countries, and the complicated path their cases must follow through the courts.
On June 11, 2008, the Supreme Court issued an historic decision in the case of Boumediene v. Bush, granting non-citizens detained in Guantánamo Bay the right to challenge their detention through the writ of habeas corpus. Less than two weeks later, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a habeas petition on behalf of Mr. Barre, challenging his unlawful detention without trial in Guantánamo since 2002.
Despite being granted international mandate refugee protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mr. Barre continues to languish in Guantánamo Bay. He is the final remaining refugee in Guantánamo recognized by UNHCR. Mr. Barre is the son-in-law of Muhamad Hussein Abdallah, another Somali refugee formally detained in Guantanamo. On October 31, 2008, Mr. Abdallah was transferred back to his home in Somaliland, where he now lives peacefully with his family.
The Center for Constitutional Rights continues to pursue Mr. Barre’s habeas corpus petition in the D.C. District Court while simultaneously advocating the UNHCR to assist with his immediate release from Guantánamo Bay.
On August 1, 2007, CCR attorneys filed a Detainee Treatment Act (DTA) petition on behalf of Mr. Barre, a Somali man who holds refugee status granted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The petition challenges his designation as an enemy combatant and includes the demand that the U.S. government provide access to critical information and allow CCR attorneys to visit their client.
On June 12, 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 in favor of the detainees in the consolidated cases of Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. United States, by reversing the Court of Appeals decision, and granting men detained in Guantánamo the writ of habeas corpus.
On June 26, 2008, CCR attorneys filed a habeas petition on behalf of Mr. Barre challenging his unlawful and indefinite detention in Guantánamo Bay.
On January 22, 2009, President Barack H. Obama signed an Executive Order to close Guantánamo Bay within one year.
* 2008-7-1-Barre Habeas Petition.pdf
* Barre - 2pg profile.pdf
* 2008-7-3 BBC - Somali in GTMO for more than seven years.pdf