Federal Court Clears Way for Forced Transfer of Gitmo Prisoners
In yet another case that questions the power of federal courts to rein in the government’s executive branch, the U.S. Circuit Court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday issued a mandate that allows the government to send up to 150 Guantanamo detainees to other countries over the prisoners’ objections, Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog reports. The ruling appears to contradict several lower court orders requiring the government to give the court 30 days’ notice before transferring any prisoners.
In a related case, the Supreme Court has been sitting on a petition for review filed by lawyers representing Chinese Muslim Uighurs, in which the D.C. Circuit held that federal judges have no power to order any prisoners released into the United States. In both cases, the prisoners fear torture if returned to their home countries, or oppose being transferred beyond the reach of federal law that allows them to challenge their detentions
Lawyers for the detainees are already moving to seek Supreme Court review to prevent their clients’ involuntary transfer. At the same time, lawyers for an Algerian prisoner, Ahmed Belbacha, asked the Circuit Court to hold off his transfer to Algeria, where he fears he’ll be tortured, until the petition to the Supreme Court is filed. Human rights groups have urged the Obama administration to allow such prisoners to be released into the United States instead of sending them to countries where they’re likely to face torture.