British Appellate Court Rejects Claim from British Detainee in Guantanamo

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Thursday, May 1, 2003
Bruce Zagaris
On November 6, 2002, a British appellate court upheld a decision by a lower court refusing the application for permission to seek judicial review to compel the Foreign Office to make representations on behalf of a British detainee in Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. Government or to take other appropriate action or at least give an explanation as to why this has not been done. The mother of Feroz Ali Abbasi, a British national captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, brought the action. In January 2002, the U.S. brought Mr. Abbasi to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, a naval base on territory held by for the U.S. on long lease pursuant to a treaty with Cuba. At the time of the hearing Mr. Abbasi had been held captive for eight months without access to a court or any other fornm of tribunal or even to a lawyer. The suit contended that his right not to be arbitrarily detained was infringed. On March 15, 2002, lower court judge Richards refused to application for permission to seek judicial review. However, on July 1, 2002, the appellate court directed a substantive hearing as a result of the unusual facts of the case and important issues. the observed the seven British citizens have been transferred to Guantanamo Bay. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office had visited the detainees at Guantanamo Bay on three occasions to ensure that they were well treated and in good physical health. The appellate court did express its deep concern that, “in apparent contravention of fundamental principles of law, Mr. Abbasi may be subject to indefinite detention in territory over which the United States has exclusive control with no opportunity to challenge the legitimacy of his detention before any court or tribunal.”