Bush in firing line as Guantanamo claims go ahead

The Bush administration could soon be facing its day of reckoning after the US Supreme Court yesterday granted 16 Guantanamo Bay detainees the right to pursue lawsuits against the government.

America’s highest court overturned earlier rulings that the US was the incorrect jurisdiction to hear their cases. The captives, two Britons, two Australians and 12Kuwaitis, are now free to pursue claims they are being held illegally at the notorious Cuban camp.

The ruling by Justice John Paul Stevens challenges America’s policy of denying the detainees the right to a trial before they were imprisoned.

The claimants in the case, Rasul et al v George Bush, were assisted by a crack team of UK lawyers acting on behalf of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA).

Sir Sydney Kentridge QC, of Brick Court chambers, Colin Nicholls QC, of 3 Raymond Buildings, and Timothy Otty, of 20 Essex Street, explained to the court that US law on a right to a trial before imprisonment has its roots in Commonwealth law, and should be applied to the British and Australian detainees.