Judge Robertson rules indefinite detention of Uyghur detainees is unlawful

UAA Press Release: Indefinite detention of Uyghur detainees is ruled unlawful

For Immediate Release
December 23, 2005, 12:00 EST
Contact: Uyghur American Association, +1 202 349 1496

(WASHINGTON, DC December 23.) In a decision issued December 22, District Judge James Robertson ruled that the imprisonment of the Uyghur detainees, Abu Bakker Qassim and A’del Abdul Al Hakim at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is unlawful. Judge Robertson however denied the Uyghurs a writ of habeas corpus, ruling that he had no power to order that they be brought into the continental United States for release.

Showing clear frustration with his available options, Judge Robertson in his ruling stated, “The question in this case is whether the law gives me the power to do what I believe justice requires. The answer, I believe, is no.

Sabin Willett an attorney representing Qassim and Al Hakim told the Uyghur American Association (UAA) that the legal options are being studied. “While we are gratified that Judge Robertson ruled Qassim and Al Hakim’s continued detention is unlawful, the court’s denial of the habeas corpus petition is deeply disappointing. We think – and it appears that Judge Robertson thinks – that these men have suffered for far too long. We will continue to press, both in the courts and diplomatically, for their release.

Nury Turkel, President of the UAA, said “The US Government has determined that they are not enemy combatants and now the court has ruled they are unlawfully held. Hopefully this will reassure nations in the free world and encourage them to offer resettlement.

Qassim and Al Hakim are two of several Uyghurs held in Guantanamo determined not to be enemy combatants. Reportedly there are 15 Uyghurs who have been determined not to be threats to US interests and have been cleared for release, but the lack of a third country for resettlement has kept them in detention in Guantanamo going on four years. The US government has already ruled out returning them to China, citing fears of torture and even execution.

Qassim and Al Hakim were reportedly in Afghanistan when coalition bombing began and fled toward Pakistan with another 16 Uyghurs. They were then taken captive by the Pakistani military in Pakistan in late 2001 and handed over to the US military several months later, reportedly for bounties. They were transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2002 and moved to a lower security camp in August 2005.