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Introducing TWI’s Gitmo Habeas Scoreboard

Since the Supreme Court ruled last year that detainees at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo have the right to habeas corpus — that is, the right to challenge their detention in court — hundreds of detainees have taken advantage, filing petitions in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Today, The Washington Independent unveils a new feature that will track the outcomes of habeas corpus cases filed by Guantanamo Bay detainees who have challenged their indefinite detentions in the federal court system.

The Gitmo Habeas* *Scoreboard is broken up into two sections: cases won by detainees — further divided between detainees who have been released and those still in custody — and cases won by the U.S. government. Using information compiled by Pro Publica and David Remes, legal director of Appeal for Justice, the accompanying charts feature background information on all 41 detainees whose cases have been decided to date, including the allegations against each detainee, the court’s reasoning in each decision, and the status of any appeals. As more cases are resolved, we’ll keep updating the chart.

Of the 41 cases heard so far, detainees have won 32 of them. That means that in 32 out of 41 cases, the government was unable to present enough evidence, including classified evidence, to convince a federal court judge that it’s more likely than not that the detainee was a member or substantial supporter of al-Qaeda or the Taliban. (Habeas cases are civil proceedings, where there is no need to establish guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” as in criminal trials.)

Of the 32 cases the government has lost, it has appealed only two. Eight detainees who have lost their cases have appealed so far.

Meanwhile, many of the prisoners who have won their petitions for habeas corpus are still imprisoned at Gitmo. Although the court in each case ordered the government to arrange for the detainee’s expeditious release, in some cases the government can’t or won’t send the prisoner back to where he came from. In some cases, that’s either because the detainee legitimately fears persecution at home, as in the case of the Uighurs. In others, it’s because, as with the prisoners from Yemen, the U.S. government doesn’t trust the detainee’s home government to keep him from joining up with local terror groups upon his return.

As a result, of the 32 detainees who have won an order of release in a U.S. federal court, 11 remain in prison.

For a full breakdown of all the cases, see the Gitmo Habeas Scoreboard here.

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