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Supreme Court declines case: US can move detainees without notice

The Supreme Court declined to hear a case on whether federal judges can require the US to give 30 days notice of any plan to move Guantánamo detainees to another country.

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Khalil Mamut, working at the Port Royal golf course in Southampton, Bermuda, in this Aug. 10, 2009, photo, is one of four Uighurs who was held at Guantánamo Bay but has since been released to Bermuda. Five Uighurs remain at the detention facility, and the Supreme Court declined a case relating to how they might be transferred to another country.

James Whittaker/AFP

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The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up an appeal by a group of Guantánamo Bay detainees seeking the ability to challenge US efforts to resettle them in third countries where they may face human rights abuses.

The high court action lets stand a ruling by the federal appeals court in Washington. That ruling states that US district judges hearing habeas corpus petitions filed by Guantánamo detainees do not have authority to order the government to provide the detainees 30 days notice before transferring them from Guantánamo to another country for resettlement.

The case involved members of China’s Uighur ethnic minority who are being held at Guantánamo despite government concessions that they are no longer considered enemy combatants of the US.

The Supreme Court had agreed earlier to take up a different appeal by the same group of Uighurs examining the power of federal judges to order the transfer of Guantánamo detainees into the US over the objection of the executive branch. But the high court dismissed that appeal before it was heard. The case was sent back to the lower courts.

The case

This second appeal, Kiyemba v. Obama, focused on the issue of whether the detainees and their lawyers were entitled to notice before the government took actions that could render moot pending legal challenges in American courts.

A federal judge had ordered the government to provide one-month notice. An appeals court panel reversed that decision.

The Uighurs and their lawyers had asked the high court to hear their case. They argued that the issue would affect more than 100 other Guantánamo detainees with pending cases in federal court. In some instances, the government was seeking to send the detainees back to their home countries where they feared hostile treatment and torture.

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