Thursday, March 7, 2013
On February 22, the Southern Illinois University School of Law was privileged to host a distinguished panel of scholars and attorneys who considered the continuing legal issues surrounding Guantanamo Bay. Professor Cindy Buys of Southern Illinois University School of Law began the symposium with a discussion of the case of Djamel Ameziane, an Algerian who has been held at Guantanamo for over 11 years without formal charges or a trial. She considered the potential impact of his petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on U.S. detention policies. Professor Michael Strauss of the Center for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies in Paris, France spoke next. He provided a history of the lease agreement between the United States and Cuba for Guantanamo Bay and raised questions regarding Cuba's responsibility under international law for U.S. activities at Guantanamo in light of Cuba's ultimate sovereignty over the land. Professor Eric Jenson of Brigham Young University rounded out the first panel with a discussion of the impact of President Obama's State of the Union speech in which he declared that the conflict in Aghanistan would be over in 2014. Given that internaiotnal law allows detainees to be held for the duration of hostilities, Professor Jenson questioned what the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan would mean for detainees who were captured as part of that conflict.
Professor Benjamin Davis of the University of Toledo College of Law led off the second panel with a discussion of his impressions as an offical Department of Defense Observer of the military commission trials at Guantanamo Bay. He raised questions regarding the legitimacy of those processes. He was followed by Professor David Frakt, Visiting Professor at the University of Pittsburg School of Law. Professor Frakt highlighted separation of powers issues connected to Congressional attempts to tie the President's hands with respect to what he may do to close down Guantanamo Bay.
William Lietzau, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Rule of Law and Detainee Policy at the U.S. Department of Defense was the keynote speaker. Assistant Secretary Lietzau (pictured here) described the view of the U.S. government regarding the dichotomy between international humanitarian law, which applies to armed conflict, and international human rights law, which applies in time of peace.
The third and final panel began with Capt. Edward White, U.S. Navy JAGC, who is head of the Motions and Appeals Section of the Chief Prosecutor, Department of Defense Office of Military Commissions. Capt. White provided a brief historical perspective on military commission trials and reviewed some of evidentiary and procedural rules governing the current trials at Guantanamo Bay. Professor Christopher Behan of Southern Illinois University spoke next and also addressed some of the evidentiary rules and their impact on the conduct of the military commission trials. Finally, Professor David Glazier of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, concluded the symposium with critiques regarding the failings of the military commission trials.
For those interested in learning more, the speakers' papers will be published in an upcoming issue of the Southern Illinios University Law Journal. Many thanks to the speakers, moderators, students and staff who made this important and timely event possible.