Guantanamo trials in deadlock

07 February 2005 by Christine Chaumeau

Three years after the creation of the Guantanamo prison, the 550 detainees in the war on terrorism risk filling up American courtrooms. Lawyers and human rights activists are attacking every aspect of the legal strategy set up by the American administration to try so-called enemy combatants. In such a context, the next few months will prove critical for the success or failure of the military commissions.

The commissions were set up in November 2001 by President Bush to try all non-US citizens suspected of belonging to or having belonged to Al Qaeda, or of having committed acts of terrorism. Based on a system used during World War II to try suspected German saboteurs, this exceptional legal structure follows rules enacted by the Pentagon and sharply limits the rights of defendants.

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