Human Rights First has been at the forefront of a national debate over the fitness of federal courts to handle terrorism cases. In May 2008, we released a report, In Pursuit of Justice, written by two former federal prosecutors, examining more than 120 international terrorism cases prosecuted in the federal criminal justice system. The report found that existing laws, in the vast majority of cases, provide an effective basis for detaining, monitoring and prosecuting terrorist suspects. We commend the Obama Administration’s decision to end al-Marri’s illegitimate imprisonment without criminal charge for five years as an “enemy combatant.” Our colleague Deborah Colson said in a statement:
Yesterday’s announcement that al-Marri will instead face criminal charges in the tried and true federal criminal justice system is welcome news. That’s where this case started and that’s where it should end.
The federal courts have proven to be highly adaptive and flexible in delivering justice in complex terrorism cases. There was never any need – nor was there any legal authority – to label al-Marri an ‘enemy combatant’ and hold him in military detention without criminal charge.
Read more about the case here.