News News Receive email alerts Organisation June 30, 2006 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Supreme Court rejection of military tribunals at Guantanamo hailed as a victory for the law NSO Group hasn’t kept its promises on human rights, RSF and other NGOs say April 28, 2021 Find out more United StatesAmericas June 3, 2021 Find out more Follow the news on United States News United StatesAmericas to go further Reporters Without Borders welcomed the decision of the US Supreme Court declaring illegal the military tribunals which were due to try prisoners detained by the US military at the Guantanamo military base.The press freedom organisation hailed the decision as a victory for law, which would perhaps mark a first step towards release for Sami Al-Haj, a Sudanese cameraman of the Qatari-based al-Jazeera TV, who has been held there without charge since 13 June 2002. “This decision is of crucial importance in that it will not allow any country to get round international law, in this case the Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war. However we fear that the Congress, which will now decide on the legal framework for the Guantanamo detainees, which will in turn contradict the Supreme Court.“In providing this triumph of law over injustice, the top jurisdiction has implicitly condemned the judicial and humanitarian scandal which Guantanamo represents. We hope that in future this decision, which will not unfortunately lead to the closure of the camp, will at least force the US authorities to urgently release Sami Al-Haj, held for no reason for four years,” it said.The federal Supreme Court voted five to three on 29 June, saying that President George W. Bush had “exceeded his powers” and “violated the Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war” by setting up military tribunals to try those whom the US Administration calls “enemy combatants.”The decision follows an appeal by Salim Hamdan, a former driver for Osama Bin Laden, who was arrested in Afghanistan in November 2001 and charged with “plotting against the United States” in July 2003 by a military tribunal. The accused contested the emergency procedure that was put in place after the 11 September attacks without the backing of Congress.As soon as the Supreme Court ruling was given, the US Senate presented a first draft of a new law to provide a legal framework for the Guantanamo prisoners. The study, drawn up by Arlen Specter (Republican, Pennsylvania), chairman of the upper chamber judicial committee, would officially allow the US president to set up “army exemption tribunals” to try detainees at a first hearing and on appeal.The Senate’s draft would put in place, in addition to these army exemption tribunals, two new special jurisdictions, one to decide within 30 days if a prisoner is an “enemy combatant” and comes under the Geneva Conventions, the other responsible for reviewing every six months whether a prisoner should be sent back to his own country.Guantanamo currently holds 440 prisoners including the Sudanese al-Jazeera cameraman Sami Al-Haj, arrested by Pakistani security forces on the Afghan border in December 2001 and handed over to the US Army in January 2002. The journalist is suspected of being an “enemy combatant” on the basis that he had entered Afghan territory illegally in October 2001 at the time of US air strikes, that he allegedly ran a website supporting terrorism, that he was allegedly involved in arms-trafficking and that he interviewed Osama Bin Laden. There was no investigation and no witnesses to back up the accusations.Al-Haj, who has throat cancer and has been denied treatment and contact with his family, has told his British lawyer, Clive A. Stafford Smith, that he has been interrogated 130 times since the start of his imprisonment. The interrogation sessions designed to get him to confess to links between al-Jazeera and al-Qaeda, were punctuated with torture and threats against his family. Finally, the journalist told his lawyer in April that he had thought about suicide.The London-based Reprieve, which provides free legal representation to 36 Guantanamo Bay detainees, welcomed the 29 June Supreme Court ruling. “The Bush administration has tried to say the men have no rights, have no access to the courts, have no power to challenge the fact that they have been held for over four years without charge, without trial. The Supreme Court rejected that stance once and for all”, said senior counsel Zachary Katznelson. Reporters Without Borders hails the Supreme Court decision on 29 June that military tribunals intended to try Guantanamo Bay detainees were illegal. The organisation said it hoped the decision would also lead to the release of Sami Al-Haj (photo), a cameraman for al-Jazeera, imprisoned at the Cuban base for four years. WhatsApp blocks accounts of at least seven Gaza Strip journalists RSF_en Facebook’s Oversight Board is just a stopgap, regulation urgently needed, RSF says News Help by sharing this information June 7, 2021 Find out more
Keble College alumnus, Geoffrey Hill has been appointed to the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry. Hill was favourite for the position and secured more than three times the votes of his nearest rival, Michael Horovitz. Following the introduction of new online voting procedures, over 2,500 votes were cast by Oxford graduates and tutors between 21 May and 26 June to elect a successor to Christopher Ricks. The last poet to hold the position, Ruth Padel, resigned last May after less than a fortnight when it emerged that she had alerted journalists to allegations of sexual harassment made against front-runner Derek Walcott. However, this year’s contest also descended into controversy when the only woman candidate, Paula Claire pulled out of the race, complaining that Hill benefited from obsequious coverage in the Oxford Gazette, the university’s official journal. The University denied any favouritism. Hill will start his five year term this autumn on an annual stipend of £6,901. As well as giving a public lecture every term, Professors must also “encourage the art of poetry in the University”, according to the University’s regulations. An award-winning writer, Hill follows in the footsteps of W H Auden, Paul Muldoon and Seamus Heaney who served as Professor of Poetry since the post was created in 1708. As well as his collections of poetry, notably King Log and Speech! Speech!, Hill has published several books of essays and taught at universities in the UK, US and Nigeria. “Besides being a great poet, he is also a critic and lecturer of great distinction and we look forward to his lectures over the next few years as the 44th Professor of Poetry.” Dr Seamus Perry, deputy chair of Oxford’s English faculty board, which hosts the chair, said: “We are glad that so many people wanted to vote under the new arrangements for the election of the Professor of Poetry; and are simply delighted that a poet of Geoffrey Hill’s eminence has emerged victorious.