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NCC joins in call for legal rights for Guantanamo prisoners

New York City, August 27, 2007 The National Council of Churches USA (NCC) is joining legal action (amicus brief) challenging the U.S. government's detention policy for prisoners at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo, Cuba.

The NCC joined the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Muslim Public Affairs Council, and the Union for Reform Judaism, among others, in supporting two cases before the Supreme Court. The cases were brought by Human Rights Watch and three other groups.

The cases, Boumediene v. Bush and al Odah v. U.S., test whether the Military Commissions Act of 2006 validly strips federal courts of jurisdiction over pending habeas corpus petitions filed by foreign citizen detainees held at Guantanamo. The cases are on appeal following a decision by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court originally denied the plaintiffs' petition but, in an unusual move, reversed that decision when a petition from the human rights groups sought a rehearing.

The NCC has joined similar cases in the past pressing for due process for the detainees' rights under U.S. and international laws.

In 2004 resolution the NCC's Governing Board said, in part, "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.'"

Two years ago, following allegations of torture at Guantanamo, the NCC "emphatically supported" at United Nations report calling upon the U.S. to close the detention facility.

The complete 2004 resolution is available online. The 2006 statement of support for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights of the Economic and Social Council is also available online.

NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252,


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