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Upon News of Five Guantanamo Detainees' Release,
National Council of Churches Renews Call for Due Process

March 11, 2004, NEW YORK CITY - The news that, after more than two years of imprisonment, five Guantanamo Bay detainees have been released without charge begs the question as to how many more prisoners at Guantanamo are likewise innocent, the National Council of Churches USA said today.  For this reason, the NCC is stepping up its call on the U.S. government to uphold the right of due process for all the detainees.

“All along we have demanded due process be granted to the detainees,” said Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, the NCC’s Associate General Secretary for International Affairs and Peace.  “We have not made judgments on their guilt or innocence, only on the fact that our government should uphold this basic legal norm.  We find it interesting that, as reported in the British press, the British Government is also pressing for the same thing.”

The National Council of Churches, along with other religious, human rights and legal organizations, has filed an amicus brief in a case currently before the United States Supreme Court that argues that U.S. and international law both require due process be granted to the Guantanamo Bay detainees. 

This past Monday, the NCC joined the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights in hosting family members from Britain and France, who came to the US to share their stories of anguish over the treatment of their relatives.

“Especially having spent time with these family members, we can appreciate the relief and joy of the families of the five detainees who have just returned home,” said the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, NCC General Secretary.  “Ours prayers are with them for peace and wholeness.”

“The release of the British detainees, after so brief a review of the evidence by British authorities, certainly supports the call for due process,” Dr. Edgar said.  “Can the U.S. Government legitimately claim that the continuing imprisonment of the detainees at Guantanamo without charge, without access to legal counsel, without access to family visits, and without access to international due process, is just?”

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