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Center for Human Rights and International Justice

Kanstroom and Students File Human Rights Amicus Brief at D.C. Circuit in Afghanistan Detention Case


Professor KanstroomProf. Daniel Kanstroom – together with a team of students from his International Human Rights law class -  has written and submitted a law professors’ amicus brief to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of  Al Maqeleh, et al. v. Gates, et al.  The case involves the detention by U.S. forces of civilians who have been detained without access to counsel at the “Bagram Theater Internment Facility” in Afghanistan for many years. 

The brief, signed by 78 individual law professors and by the Society of American Law Teachers as an institution, argues that the “seizure, isolation, rendition without process, and detention without access to judicial review of non-combatant civilians by the Executive Branch present profound challenges to human rights.”  It urges the court to follow the Supreme Court’s holding in Boumediene v. Bush,  that the writ of habeas corpus is intended to secure individual liberty as “an essential mechanism in the separation-of-powers scheme”  and that freedom “from arbitrary and unlawful restraint” is among “freedom’s first principles.” Finally, the brief suggests that the court’s interpretation of habeas corpus should comply with, and be informed by, the standards of international human rights law.  Such interpretation respects the history of habeas corpus while affirming an evolutionary understanding of its crucial modern importance.

The team of law students included Esther Adetunji, Alissa Dolan, Robert Hatfield, Kathryn Kargman, Benjamin Manchak, Erin Morley, Ian Read, Kate Voigt, and Jennifer Yeung.  The BC team was assisted by attorney Douglas Baruch and the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP.

Read the Brief Here