More than a year ago the Supreme Court ruled in the Center for Constitutional Rights case Rasul v. Bush that the Guantanamo detainees have a right to file habeas corpus petitions in U.S. courts. Despite this fact, the government continues to block the detainees’ access to their attorneys, and now, in cases where prisoners have managed to communicate their request for counsel through other detainees or lawyers, the government has said it will not honor those requests.
The Department of Defense has done everything in its power to prevent these detainees from having access to the courts. It has held the detainees incommunicado, has refused to disclose their identities, and is now challenging their requests for legal representation. Despite the government's efforts to prevent detainees from being able to communicate their desire for attorneys (such as refusing to provide pens to detainees to write letters to counsel or the courts, refusing to deliver the mail of those detainees who are able to write, and holding detainees in solitary confinement), some detainees have managed to communicate their request for legal assistance to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) the only way they could – through other detainees.
In a motion filed on September 1, 2005 the government moved to dismiss nine habeas petitions, claiming that the detainees’ lawyers improperly filed the cases based on requests for assistance from other detainees. Yet the Military began circulating a notice to some detainees in December of 2004, telling them that they could ask a friend to help them file a habeas petition with the court. Earlier this week, lawyers for the detainees filed their oppositions to the government’s motion to dismiss these petitions, informing the court of the obstacles put in place by the Department of Defense.
"It's hard to understand the government's position on this," stated CCR attorney Tina Monshipour Foster. "On the one hand, the government takes the position that an attorney cannot file a petition for a detainee unless the detainee has communicated with his lawyer directly. On the other hand, they refuse to allow attorneys to communicate with their clients directly until after the petition is filed."
CCR is leading a team of more than 450 attorneys around the country representing the Guantánamo detainees and is fighting this latest attempt to subvert due process and the rule of law our country was founded on.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, The Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.