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Resolution on the Detainees
Adopted by the Executive Board
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has observed with great consternation and frustration the ongoing detention of more than 600 foreign nationals at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. These detainees, while nationals of several countries, have been held without due process afforded them by both United States law and international law since the time of the 2001 war in Afghanistan.
Our concern is based on the fundamental Christian belief in the dignity of the human person created in the image of God, and on the rights accorded all persons by virtue of their humanity. As affirmed in a NCCCUSA policy statement on human rights, dated December 6, 1963, “Christians believe that man is made in the image of God, that every person is of intrinsic worth before God, and that every individual has a right to the fullest possible opportunity for the development of life abundant and eternal. Denials of rights and freedoms that inhere in man’s worth before God are not simply a crime against humanity; they are a sin against God.”
Based on this belief, in the same statement the NCCCUSA affirmed that all human beings enjoyed: “…equality before the law, including protection by the police; the right of an accused person to a prompt, fair, and public trial; the right of counsel; the right to be confronted with written indictment, evidence and witnesses against him; the right to present evidence and witnesses on his own behalf and to cross-examine other witnesses; the right to have the judgment of his actions depend on an evaluation of acts in the light of law, by due process, such as by impartial judges or an impartial jury of his peers.”
Likewise, in a policy statement on religious obedience and civil disobedience, dated June 7, 1968, the NCCCUSA asserted that: “…it is generally agreed that the function of government is to secure justice, peace and freedom for its citizens, and to maintain order, not as an end in itself, but as a condition necessary for the existence of justice, peace and freedom.” Based on this premise, the document went on to say: “When, however, a particular government fails to provide justice, peace or freedom, it is not maintaining true order, and Christians should remain faithful to their understanding of what order ought to be, even at the cost of disobeying that government…[T]hey show their genuine respect for rightful ‘governing authority’ by criticizing, resisting or opposing the current misusers of that authority.”
Whereas, the Executive Board of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, meeting in New York, February 23-24, 2004, at a time when the United States Government does not appear willing to rectify this untenable situation, believes that indefinite detention of persons without due process is a violation of their dignity and worth as children of God;
Whereas, the NCCCUSA has joined its voice to that of other human rights, legal and religious non-governmental organizations in an amicus curiae brief filed with the United States Supreme Court in the case of Shafiq Rasul, et al., v. George W. Bush, President of the United States, et al., and Fawzi Khalid Abdullah Fahad Al Odah, et al., v. United States, et al., based on our interest from a moral standpoint in the right to due process, which is being denied the detainees at Guantanamo;
Whereas, the NCCCUSA has requested permission from the United States Government to visit the detainees at Guantanamo on a pastoral and humanitarian basis and has been denied such permission;
And whereas, the NCCCUSA remains committed to the rectification of this situation, as reflected in these actions, and out of concern for the ideals of democracy now threatened by the denial of such principles as due process;
Therefore, be it resolved that, as a community of 36 member communions, the NCCCUSA urges the US Government to immediately grant the legal rights accorded all detainees as outlined in the amicus brief to which we are a party;
And be it resolved that the NCCCUSA calls upon the leaders of its constituent communions to communicate concern for this issue to elected government officials in ways they consider appropriate;
And be it resolved that the NCCCUSA will continue to monitor this situation and will take appropriate actions in response to developments, as reflected in our ongoing commitment to justice and the rule of law;
And be it resolved that the NCCCUSA will continue to request permission to visit the detainees on a humanitarian basis, as reflected in our ongoing concern for their physical, mental and spiritual well being;
And be it resolved that the NCCCUSA calls upon churches to pray for the just and fair treatment of those individuals affected in the current situation.
See also: January 21, 2004 NCC News Release "U.S. Ecumenical Delegation Denied Visit to Guantanamo Detainees; NCC Continues to Press for Detainees' Due Process Rights"
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