12 June 2008 The United Nations human rights chief has welcomed today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court that the country’s constitution extends to foreigners being held in Guantánamo Bay and that they have the right to challenge their detention in the civilian court system.
Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement that the detainees – some of whom have been detained for up to six years – have the right to a “prompt review” of the reasons for their detention.
“The Supreme Court has sent a vitally important message that the protections afforded by fundamental human rights guarantees extend to these individuals and that effective remedies must be available to them,” she said after the announcement of a ruling in the case, known as Boumediene v. Bush.
Ms. Arbour added that she welcomed the recognition by the court “that security and liberty are not trade-offs, but can be reconciled through the framework of the law, and that it is the courts that apply that law. This has long been the hallmark of American constitutionalism.”
The High Commissioner had submitted an amicus curiae – or “friend of the court” – brief to the Supreme Court as part of the case, arguing as a matter of constitutional law for the same conclusion that the court reached today.
After the ruling she said she hoped that, “now that these legal issues have been clearly and definitively settled, the civilian courts will be able to move promptly to assess the situation of individual detainees.”
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