US SC rejects Afghan war detainees’ case
WASHINGTON: The US Supreme Court rejected on Monday an appeal by a group of clergy, lawyers and professors who challenged the detention of hundreds of captives from the Afghan war at a US military prison on Cuba.
Without any comment, the justices let stand a US appeals court ruling that dismissed the lawsuit because the Coalition of Clergy, Lawyers and Professors had no legal authority to bring the case on the detainees’ behalf. The lawsuit claimed the detainees have been held without due process, have not been told the charges against them and have no access to lawyers. It said their captivity violated the US Constitution and the Geneva Convention. The Bush administration’s Justice Department takes the position that those being held at Guantanamo Bay have no rights under the US legal system and that the coalition lacked the legal standing to represent the detainees.
The Justice Department, criticised by civil liberties groups for positions taken during the war on terrorism, urged the Supreme Court to reject the appeal.
Department lawyers argued the coalition must have at least some relationship with those being held to bring the case on their behalf.
A federal judge in Los Angeles and the California-based appeals court had dismissed the lawsuit. The appeals court ruled the coalition failed to show any relationship with the detainees. Stephen Yagman, an attorney for the coalition, appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the group has standing to bring the case because the detainees lack access to the courts and the group will represent their interests.
He also said the judge in Los Angles had jurisdiction to hear the appeal because the custodians of the prisoners, President George W Bush and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, are within the court’s jurisdiction. In a separate case, a federal appeals court in Washington, DC, ruled in March the detainees cannot use US courts to contest the lawfulness and conditions of their confinement. —Reuters