Document - USA: More of the same: New Manual for Military Commissions confirms acquittal may not mean release
USA: More of the same: New Manual for Military Commissions confirms acquittal may not mean release
A matter of hours before pre-trial proceedings were due to resume in Guantánamo in the case of Omar Khadr – a Canadian national held in US military custody for nearly eight years, since he was 15 years old – the Pentagon released the rules governing the military commission proceedings. The hearing in Omar Khadr’s case which had been due to begin on the morning of 28 April 2010, was delayed until the afternoon to allow his lawyers to take their first look at the 280-page manual.1Amnesty International will also be reviewing the manual and raising its concerns. Here the organization raises one particular issue.
Like its predecessor – released by the Bush administration in 2007 – the new Manual for Military Commissions confirms that the current US administration, like its predecessor, reserves the right to continue to detain individuals indefinitely even if they have been acquitted by a military commission. Continuing to hold such a detainee after acquittal, the rules note, “may be authorized by statute, such as the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, as informed by the laws of war”.2Thus the Obama administration has chosen to follow the Bush administration in invoking a concept of “global war”, essentially claiming that US counter-terrorism laws, policies, and practices in this area need be measured only against the law of war (and even then, only by vague analogy), to the exclusion of international human rights obligations.3This flies in the face of judgments of the International Court of Justice and authoritative legal conclusions stated by the UN Human Rights Committee.