Washington, DC (June 12, 2006) – Nancy Hollander, a Guantanamo defense lawyer, today released the following statement in light of last weekend’s tragic suicides of Guantanamo prisoners Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi and Yassar Talal Al-Zahrani of Saudi Arabia, and Ali Abdullah Ahmed of Yemen:
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has been actively involved in recruiting pro bono habeas corpus lawyers for the prisoners held at the Guantanamo Naval Base. Several NACDL members have taken on the impossible task of defending people the government has not officially charged. These lawyers represent the prisoners at Guantanamo at their own expense without even travel expenses paid by the government. If the government truly believes that the American justice system is the best in the world, then it must not continue to ignore the responsibilities and rights that system provides. The Military Commissions the government has convened for a few prisoners are not American justice. They are a makeshift, illegal system no American can accept.
To continue to hold over 400 men and boys -- some now for over four years -- without filing charges makes a mockery of justice. As defense lawyers, we try to give our clients hope, but we cannot even give them a hearing date. For many, hope is running out.
NACDL urges the government to respond to the recent suicides of its prisoners by immediately filing charges if warranted, setting trial dates and providing lawyers, experts and investigators as necessary to assist indigent prisoners to prepare defenses. If the government does not have probable cause to believe these prisoners committed crimes against the United States, it must immediately free them. The world is watching.
Nancy Hollander is a criminal defense lawyer in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. She is a past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and is chair of NACDL’s Guantanamo Bay Detainees and Military Tribunals Committee. She is lead American counsel for Guantanamo Detainee No. 760, Mohamedou Ould Slahi of Mauritania.
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For further information, contact Ms. Hollander at 505-842-9960 or NACDL Public Affairs at 202-872-8600, ext. 228.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.