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Graham Amendment Taking Away Habeus Jurisdiction

By Clara Gutteridge,

On Thursday 10th of November the US Senate passed an amendment to the Defence Appropriations Bill introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham
This amendment would strip all those designated by the US Administration as enemy combatants of the right to seek Habeas Review in Federal Courts. It would also limit judicial inquiry at Guantanamo to the US Military’s compliance with its own regulations relating to the bogus legal category of "enemy combatants".

Not only is this Bill an unconstitutional usurpation of US judicial authority by Congress, it also presents serious problems for other States seeking to protect the rights of their own citizens. Whilst the current focus is on detainees at Guantanamo, the provision extends to anyone designated by the US Military as an "enemy combatant". The US is in the process of passing a Bill which could deny rights of Habeas Relief for a British Citizen held abroad.

The amendment effectively undoes the ruling by the US Supreme Court in Rasul V Bush that US courts have full jurisdiction to consider the legality of detentions at Guantanamo Bay.

Under the Amendment, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has limited authority to review claims regarding whether the Defence Department is following its own procedures for the "Combatant Status review Tribunals" and "Administrative Review Boards" created for Guantanamo alone. These Military Tribunals are widely regarded as unfair and failing to meet international standards of due process.

In effect, the Graham Amendment prohibits detainees from using the Court to challenge:

1.The legality of their detention
2.The propriety of returning detainees to their own country
3.The legality of treatment at Guantanamo including torture and abuse

Conditions of confinement at Guantanamo including the adequacy of medical care, the quality of food, adequacy of communication with relatives and allotment of exercise

If this Bill is passed, the effect would be to end ALL litigation on behalf of Guantanamo detainees, those imprisoned by the CIA in secret camps around the world, and anyone in the future designated by the US Military as an Enemy Combatant - whatever their Nationality. Elisa Massimino, Washington Director of Human Rights First has said:

"This amendment would - for the first time since the civil war – suspend the writ of Habeus Corpus, this time for those held on US territory at Guantanamo Bay. It undermines the independence of the judiciary…the Graham Bill would undo 2 centuries of US commitment to enforcing in its courts the universal prohibition against torture."

The Senate will take up this issue again as early as Monday of next week. We must act swiftly to prevent The US Senate passing a Bill that threatens the rights of our own citizens to due process on American soil.




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