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Pelavin: The ability of individuals to challenge their detention in court is one of the most valued aspects of our judicial system and one that has been denied to Guantanamo detainees for far too long.
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July 2, 2007 | Washington D.C. –In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to allow detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay to challenge their detention, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to hear appeals from detainees who are being held in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is a step in the right direction toward restoring the Constitutional rights badly damaged by both executive decisions and the passage of the Military Commissions Act last fall. The Court’s rare reversal of its previous decision not to hear such appeals is welcome and long overdue.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 left an indelible mark on our nation, making it necessary to strike a delicate balance between ensuring national security and effectively dealing with combatants in the war on terror in both a humane and legal manner. The ability of individuals to challenge their detention in court is one of the most valued aspects of our judicial system and one that has been denied to Guantanamo detainees for far too long.
Jewish tradition commands us to “have one law for the stranger and citizen alike.” The application of this principle to detainees does not mean weakening national security. Rather it means that before depriving individuals of their liberty, the government will have to prove in court that such individuals pose a threat to our nation But without such proof, the practice of indefinitely detaining non-citizens in the war on terror diminishes our nation and the principles for which it stands.