Guantanamo Uighurs could be allowed in US only to face trial
Obama administration could bring foreign inmates held at the Guantanamo prison to U.S. only to face prosecution, under a measure that cleared Congress.
Obama administration could bring foreign inmates held at the Guantanamo Bay prison to the United States only to face prosecution, under a measure that cleared Congress on Tuesday.
The Senate's 79 to 19 vote removed one of the many roadblocks the government faces as it tries to empty the internationally condemned prison by January.
The measure, included in a $42.8 billion bill to fund the Homeland Security Department, passed the House of Representatives last week and now heads to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign into law.
Attorneys for the Uighurs, supported by civil liberties groups, appealed to the Supreme Court.
They said the case presented important questions that required the intervention by the justices, and that the indefinite imprisonment of the Uighurs violated the Geneva Conventions, the internationally accepted humanitarian principles to be observed during armed conflict.
The attorneys said the Supreme Court's ruling last year that Guantanamo prisoners can challenge their confinement would be rendered meaningless if judges could not order their release into the United States when no other country will take them.
Early this year, the Obama administration said it was considering freeing the Uighurs in the United States, but a political firestorm erupted, with many members of Congress opposing such a transfer.
Obama ordered the detention camp closed on his second day in office but administration officials have run into numerous legal, political and diplomatic hurdles.
Not least among those has been Congress, even though Obama's fellow Democrats control the House and the Senate.
The compromise passed by both chambers of Congress would allow the government to bring Guantanamo inmates to U.S. soil only if they are going to face trial in American courts.
The administration would have to present a risk assessment and give 45 days' notice.
Those cleared of wrongdoing without trial could not be resettled within the United States.
Reuters Last Mod: 21 Ekim 2009, 00:35