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Issue #1602      July 17, 2013

Judge bans cavity searches at Guantánamo

Washington District Court Chief Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the US government last week to stop cavity searches of Guantánamo Bay detainees. Judge Lamberth said that the motivation for searches had not been to enhance security but to deter detainees’ access to lawyers.

He also ordered prison commanders to return to older search methods and abandon genital-contact searching.

“As petitioners’ counsel argued the choice between submitting to a search procedure that is religiously and culturally abhorrent or forgoing counsel effectively presents no choice at all for devout Muslims,” the judge wrote.

He quoted President Barack Obama’s comment at a speech in May in which he said his administration would make judicial review available for every Guantánamo detainee.

The judge wrote that the actions of President Obama’s commanders at the military-run prison for terrorist suspects at Guantánamo can’t be squared with that.

Judge Lamberth also ordered the government to allow detainees who were weak because of their participation in the continuing hunger strike, or those who had a medical condition that made it difficult to travel outside the camp, to meet their lawyers at the camp rather than travel across the US enclave.

Mr Lamberth wrote that Guantánamo search procedures “flagrantly” disregarded the need for sensitivity in religious and cultural matters.

Defence lawyer Brent Rushforth said that the Obama administration “was flouting the rule of law as recognised by the Supreme Court.

“Judge Lamberth’s decision sets that right.”

Morning Star  

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