UN expert invited to observe military commission hearings at Guantanamo Bay

3 December 2007 –

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism today announced that he will attend, at the invitation of the United States Government, military commission hearings scheduled to commence on Wednesday at Guantanamo Bay.

Announcing the invitation in a statement released in Geneva, Martin Scheinin said the upcoming official trip is in follow up to his visit to the US in May.

It is expected that the Special Rapporteur will have the opportunity to observe an evidentiary hearing regarding the case of United States v. Hamdan, a Yemeni national, was captured in Afghanistan during hostilities in 2001 and who has been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 charged under the Military Commissions Act with conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism.

The Special Rapporteur’s mission report on the United States is expected to be presented and considered by the resumed sixth session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 12 December. He will also report orally on his observations regarding his trip to Guantanamo Bay.

Mr. Scheinin has a mandate to develop a regular dialogue and to cooperate with all relevant players, including Governments, to exchange information, make recommendations and to identify and promote best practices on measures to counter terrorism that respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity.

Mr. Scheinin has previously served as a member of the Human Rights Committee (1997-2004). He is currently Director at the Institute for Human Rights, Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland.

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