U.S. Court of Appeals to Hear Arguments for Release of Uighurs

By Gabrielle Meury
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

WASHINGTON, U.S. – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit was scheduled to hear arguments Monday from the Bush administration and lawyers for the detainees. The case comes as President-elect Barack Obama is pledging to quickly shut down the facility.

Last month U.S. District Judge Richard Urbina ordered the immediate release of 17 Uighurs, Turkic Muslims, into the United States because they were no longer considered enemy combatants. He criticized the Bush administration for a detention that “crossed the constitutional threshold into infinitum.” The Bush administration sued to block Urbina’s order, citing security concerns over weapons training the Uighurs received at camps in Afghanistan.  The administration claims that they cannot find another country to accept them. Solicitor General Gregory Garre wrote in court filings this past week, “This appeal raises questions of diplomatic relations and national security that are for the political branches, not the judiciary, to resolve.”

The same three-judge panel that agreed to temporarily halt the Uighurs’ release in late October will hear oral arguments on Monday. The one Democrat on the panel, Judge Judith W. Rogers, wrote a dissent arguing for the Uighurs’ immediate release. She believes that the government could point to no evidence of dangerousness. The U.N. is aligned with Judge Rogers, stating “It is our view that the United States is under international law obliged immediately to release the Uighur detainees of Guantanamo.”

The Bush administration maintains that detainees should stay at Guantanamo, as 20 percent of the 250 remaining prisoners fear torture or persecution if they return to their home countries.

For more information, please see:

Associated Press- Court to hear case of Uighurs held at Guantanamo– 24 November 2008

CBC- U.S. Appeal court to hear case of Chinese Muslims held at Guantanamo– 24 November 2008

Boston Globe- Court mulls early release of Uighurs from Gitmo– 24 November 2008

Author: Impunity Watch Archive