Habeas corpus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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On 29 September 2006, the U.S. House and Senate approved the Military Commissions Act of 2006, a bill which would suspend habeas corpus for any alien (noncitizen) determined to be an "unlawful enemy combatant engaged in hostilities or having supported hostilities against the United States"[2][3] by a vote of 65-34. (This was the result on the bill to approve the military trials for detainees; an amendment to remove the suspension of habeas corpus failed 48-51.[4]) President Bush signed the Military Commissons Act of 2006 into law on October 17, 2006.

With the MCA's passage, the law altered the language from "alien detained ... at Guantanamo Bay":

"Except as provided in section 1005 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination." §1005(e)(1), 119 Stat. 2742.

Under the MCA, the law restricts habeas appeals for only those detained as enemy combatants, or awaiting such determination. Left unchanged is the provision that, after such determination is made, it is subject to appeal in U.S. Court, including a review of whether the evidence warrants the determination. If the status is upheld, then their imprisonment is deemed lawful; if not, then the government can change the prisoner's status to something else, at which point the habeas restrictions no longer apply.

There is, however, no legal time limit which would force the government to provide a Combatant Status Review Tribunal hearing. Prisoners are legally prohibited from petitioning any court for any reason before a CSRT hearing takes place. It has been pointed out that the government can thus detain any noncitizen for any length of time, without habeas or any other appeal, by delaying the CSRT hearing indefinitely.



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