Military Commissions and the Guantanamo Detainees: Safeguards Missing

In his essay ‘No Name in the Street’, Harlem-born Parisian resident James Baldwin wrote: ‘If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class.

The World Today Updated 21 October 2020 Published 1 August 2003 7 minute READ

M. C. Kane

American lawyer carrying out research at the University of St. Andrews

One goes to the unprotected – those, precisely, who need the law’s protection most!’ There is perhaps no class more vulnerable than the alleged Taliban fighters interned at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. 

This is not based on size or might, though they are certainly in the minority and lack any power over their situation. Rather, they are more vulnerable because of the lack of procedural safeguards throughout their detention and in the proposed military trials. The opportunity to express their perspective is extremely limited, as are any remaining freedoms. For a country that espouses God-given inalienable rights, the United States appears comfortable withholding such principles when convenient.

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