U.S. Court Denies Guantanamo Detainees Access to U.S. Courts

IMPORTANT: The full content of this page is available to premium users only.

Sunday, September 1, 2002
Bruce Zagaris
On July 31, 2002, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kelly denied efforts by 16 detainees to obtain access to U.S. courts, lawyers, or secure their release. Judge Kollar-Kotelly framed the question presented by the two cases before the court as whether aliens held outside the sovereign territory of the U.S. can use the U.S. courts to pursue claims brought under the U.S. Constitution. The court found that it was without jurisdiction to consider the merits of the two cases and that no court would have jurisdiction to hear those actions. Hence, it dismissed both suits with prejudice. The court rejected the arguments that the Fifth Amendment protections should apply as long as the U.S. has de facto sovereignty over Guantanamo Bay. However, the court disagreed and held that jurisprudence is that de jure sovereignty determines jurisdiction.