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UN rights expert 'concerned' about judicial safeguards at Guantanamo hearings

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin [official website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday expressed "grave concern" [press release] over the "lack of judicial guarantees and fair trial procedures" for detainees facing military commission proceedings at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. In a report to the UN Human Rights Council, Scheinin also expressed concern regarding difficulties detainees face in presenting evidence in their defense. Last week, Scheinin attended hearings for Salim Ahmed Hamdan, alleged to have been a driver for Osama bin Laden, at the invitation of the United States as follow-up to his earlier May visit [JURIST reports] to Guantanamo. In May, he said that the US has committed human rights violations in its interrogations of terror suspects; in October, he called on the US to quickly prosecute or release terror suspects [JURIST report] so the detention center might be closed. Scheinin said Wednesday that he hopes to revisit Guantanamo to conduct unmonitored detainee interviews, a request the US has so far denied.

Deputy Legal Adviser to the US Mission to the UN in Geneva Melanie Khanna responded to Scheinin's comments [detailed response, PDF; press release] with "extreme" disappointment, saying that "a large part of the report again repeats unfair and oversimplified criticisms of the United States." Khanna called on Scheinin to focus on practical solutions rather than "well-worn" criticism in future reports. Reuters has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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