April 2, 2009, New York, NY-- In a landmark 55-page order issued by Judge John D. Bates of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, a US court has held for the first time that detainees held indefinitely without charge in US custody in Afghanistan are entitled to challenge their detentions in US courts. The court agreed with the arguments presented by the International Justice Network (IJNetwork), the only organization litigating the cases of the detainees held at US custody in Afghanistan, that three individuals detained without charge for more than six years at the US airbase at Bagram, Afghanistan, are entitle to have their cases heard in US courts. IJNetwork originally brought the cases in October 2006, on behalf of four petitioners, Haji Wazir, Fadi Al Maqaleh, Amin Al Bakri and Redha Al-Najar, foreign nationals captured outside of Afghanistan and brought to the main US airbase at Bagram where they have been held without charge for more than six years.
Judge Bates' decision held that three of the four petitioners, Al Maqaleh, Al Bakri and Al-Najar are entitled to have their cases reviewed by US courts under the US Constitution. Citing the potential for friction with the Afghan Government, the Court ordered the parties to submit additional briefing addressing the question of US federal courts have jurisdiction to hear the case of the remaining petitioner, Haji Wazir, an Afghan national.
Barbara Olshansky, Litigation and Advocacy Director of the International Justice Network, responded to the news of Judge Bates opinion, saying that "I am very gratified to see the judiciary step up to the plate again and continue to act in their critical role as a check on executive power. Judge Bates' opinion stands as a historic marker for the principle that wherever we act as a government around the world, we must be held accountable for our actions."
Prof. Ramzi Kassem, IJNetwork cooperating counsel, an attorney representing one of the three detainees who won the right to challenge their detention in US courts added that "This is a great day for American justice. Today, a US federal judge ruled that our government cannot simply kidnap people and hold them beyond the law. Amin Al Bakri and his family can now rest assured that an impartial judge will give them their day in court."