US Supreme Court rejects clergy appeal for Guantanamo prisoners

 The Supreme Court in the USA has rejected an appeal by clergy against the detention of hundreds of US prisoners in 'Camp X-Ray' who were picked up in Afghanistan after the September 11 terror attacks - Ekklesia reported today. Lower federal courts had previously blocked the legal challenge on grounds that the group did not have legal standing. The clergy sued President Bush, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others last year. "The United States government violated basic principles of international human rights law in forcibly removing prisoners of war from Afghanistan, transporting them to Guantanamo, and holding them indefinitely in small outdoor cages," the clergy group said. The suit claimed the prisoners were being deprived of their liberty and have not been informed of the accusations against them, in violation of the US Constitution. They demanded that the government provide the prisoners with lawyers, bring them before a US court, acknowledge their identities and define the charges against them. The detainees are from 36 countries. The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals declined to address the merits of those complaints. To have standing to represent the detainees in court, the San Francisco-based federal appeals court said, the coalition would need to have had a pre-existing relationship with the detainees or prove that the prisoners had mental defects. The court declined to rule on whether individual prisoners could bring cases. The government says federal courts have no power over US military policy carried out in a foreign nation as part of the nation's war on terrorism. The detainees began arriving at the US naval base in Cuba in January 2002. The United States is holding approximately 680 prisoners from 42 nations, including several children. The government refuses to identify them. Last month, according to the BBC, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, wrote a strongly worded letter to Donald Rumsfeld, deploring the imprisonment of children and old people, and saying that eight governments friendly to the US had complained about the holding of their citizens.

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