Guantanamo Bay: Civil or Military Trial?

May 25, 2011
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Imagine being tied down, subjected to electric shock, sleep deprivation, and sexual humiliation every day of your life. In 2002, Binyam Mohamed was arrested at the Karachi airport in Pakistan by the US military for being a member of the Taliban. He spent seven years being tortured in Camp Five at Guantanamo Bay. He was then released after they discovered he was innocent. His lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith, is trying to release the government documents that state his treatment was “cruel, inhuman, and degrading.” Adjusting to life outside prison after seven years is difficult, but when he returned home he had only one clear ambition: to help secure justice for the 241 men whom he left in Guantanamo Bay.
Guantanamo Bay was established in 1898, when the United States took control of Cuba from Spain following the Spanish-American War. In July 2005, 242 detainees were moved out of Guantanamo, including 173 that were released without charge, and 69 transferred to the governments of other countries, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Prisoners in Guantanamo Bay do not get the right to have a civil trial; instead they are tried by a military court. This makes a difference for the prisoners because usually a war prisoner tried by military trial, but a civil trial is more appropriate because they can seek a legal or equitable remedy.
The military court is generally reserved for military personnel, while civilian courts handle the rest of the population. Civilian cases are required to have search warrants and evidence, and prosecutors are permitted to speak openly with the press about the cases. The grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether there is enough evidence in a case to go to trial. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint. Military cases have restrictions regarding the release of information to the public on all type of documents and evidence pertaining to the cases. Judges are given the right to deny the public’s access to military case documents and prosecutors must gain permission from the judges to speak to the press. Also military trials must have an Article 32 hearing. An Article 32 hearing is reviewed by an investigating officer who decides whether the case should head to trial.
If Binyam had a civil trial he would have had a chance to speak openly with the press and he may not have ended up in prison. I believe that prisoners should have the right to choose the type of trial they believe is the best for them. So even if Guantanamo Bay is an effective way to fight terrorism, the prisoner’s deserve the right to a civil trial.

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