A federal appeals court in Washington DC has ruled that due process is not a right belonging to prisoners in a military prison like Gitmo. The case was brought by Abdulsalam Ali Abdulrahman al Hela, a Yemeni citizen who has been held as a prisoner at Gitmo since 2004. He is seeking his release but now that seems to be out of his reach.
The decision revolved around whether someone who has no property or presence in the United States was owed due process and the panel says that they don't. The majority opinion was written by Judge Neomi Rao, who was appointed to the court by President Trump.
David Remes, al Hela's attorney, told The Hill on Friday:
"We think the decision is incorrect and we're considering our options. The fundamental injustice at Guantanamo is holding individuals indefinitely without a charge. That's the ultimate problem that needs to be addressed."
Tung Yin, a law professor at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon said:
"In one sense, it's pretty significant in terms of the boldness of the holding. But in another sense, the practical effect of it is probably not really that strong because President Obama whittled down pretty greatly the number of detainees who are left in Guantanamo."
Jonathan Hafetz, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said:
"The fundamental guarantees of due process unquestionably apply to individuals the U.S. has imprisoned for nearly two decades at an island prison, and it is an affront to the Constitution to suggest otherwise."
The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that detainees could challenge their imprisonment by filing habeas corpus petitions in federal court.
But Rao wrote in her opinion Friday that the Supreme Court decision said nothing about the claims that detainees could raise in such petitions.
"While we must enforce constitutional limits on the Executive Branch in this context as in any other, it would be well beyond our authority to extend or to create new constitutional limits on the conduct of wartime detention by the political branches," she wrote.