For Immediate Release: August 29, 2012
Washington, DC – Human Rights First expresses disappointment that the Obama Administration has elected to move forward with a military commission prosecution of Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Darbi. Human Rights First has long held that the military commissions system is unreliable and presents acute challenges to the United States’ commitment to the rule of law. Human Rights First advocates for Al Darbi, and any other detainees at Guantanamo accused of serious crimes, to be tried in a civilian court in the United States or any other country that has jurisdiction.
“Al Darbi’s case promises to showcase a lot of the fundamental flaws of the military commission system,” said Human Rights First’s Raha Wala. “Though he will be tried before the so-called ‘reformed’ military commission, anybody who follows these cases knows that this case will demonstrate just the opposite. By using a military tribunal whose authority is limited to prosecution of war crimes for someone whose alleged crimes were committed long before the war that started after 9/11, prosecutors are demonstrating a willingness to take liberties with the rule of law. It simply makes no sense to use these second-rate procedures when the civilian judicial system is open and functioning.”
Since 9/11, military commissions have been plagued by legal problems, completing only seven cases. By contrast, federal courts have convicted nearly 500 individuals of international terrorism-related offenses since 9/11, according to a Department of Justice tally obtained by Human Rights First in a Freedom of Information Act request.
Congress has barred transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the United States for any purpose, including trial in civilian court.
“Congress needs to stop playing politics with fundamental issues of national security and the rule of law,” added Wala. “It should overturn the restrictions on transferring Guantanamo detainees.”