For Immediate Release: February 24, 2012
Washington, DC –The Obama administration has indicated that it will move forward with a military commissions trial for Ali Mussa Daqduq, a move Human Rights First notes is an unnecessary and risky use of the flawed military commissions system. Daqduq is a Lebanese man thought to be a commander of Hezbollah and is accused of serious crimes committed during the war in Iraq. Military commissions had previously been limited to cases involving Guantanamo detainees that had ties to al Qaeda.
“This is the kind of case the Federal War Crimes Act was made for. Our civilian courts can and should handle this case. The administration has said – and reiterated just this week – that it is operating under a limited legal framework for military action. But this decision undercuts that assertion,” noted Human Rights First’s Raha Wala. ”In addition, moving forward with this prosecution in the flawed military commissions undermines what would otherwise seem to be a very strong case. With the end of the war in Iraq and the withdrawal from Afghanistan approaching, the Obama administration should begin the process of dismantling the failed military commissions experiment, not expanding it.”
As Human Rights First has reported, civilian federal courts have convicted over 400 individuals of terrorism-related offenses since 9/11. Military commissions have convicted only six. Many of the federal civilian court cases involved individuals who had plotted attacks internationally or were otherwise captured abroad.
Reports suggest that Daqduq worked with local insurgent groups to capture and execute four U.S. soldiers during fighting in Iraq, which would constitute a war crime under international law. Federal criminal law gives civilian courts the power to punish individuals for committing war crimes, in addition to other serious offenses committed abroad.