Amnesty International has welcomed the new US administration’s moves to
suspend military commission proceedings at Guantánamo as a “positive
sign”. The organization said that it hoped it was a "clear signal of this
administration’s intention to move away from unlawful practices of the
"This is an encouraging step from the new administration – and one
that we hope will be followed by the permanent abandonment of these
unfair trials and the closure of the Guantánamo detention facility,"
said Susan Lee, Director of the Americas program at Amnesty
"Yesterday, in his inaugural address, President Barack Obama
underscored the need for a break from the past," said Susan Lee. "He
rejected as ‘false’ the choice between security and ideals, and we
welcome that. Respect for human rights and the rule of law is the route
to security, not the obstacle to it."
In a motion filed in Guantánamo yesterday, prosecutors sought a
120-day suspension of military commission proceedings in the case of
five detainees previously held in secret CIA custody.
The motion said that a suspension was needed for the new
administration to be able to "conduct a review of detainees currently
held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to evaluate the cases of detainees not
held for release or transfer to determine whether prosecution may be
warranted" and "to determine which forum best suits any future
"The Military Commissions Act – like Guantánamo, the secret
detention program, and resort to torture – has left the USA on the
wrong side of its international obligations. The move to suspend the
military commission proceedings is a welcome sign that the new
administration plans to right some of those wrongs as a first
priority," said Susan Lee.
"We hope that the new administration will move promptly to dismiss
all charges pending under the Military Commissions Act, and that any
trials that do take place will be conducted in the US federal court
system, without recourse to the death penalty," said Susan Lee.
Amnesty International has opposed the military commission trials
from the outset, as they fail to comply with international fair trial
standards, including the prohibition in international law of admission
into evidence of information obtained under cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or other unlawful conditions.