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Statement of Support for the “Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007”

(Washington, DC, February 13, 2007) – Human Rights Watch strongly supports the “Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007,” introduced today by Senator Christopher Dodd, which would correct many of the worst aspects of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Related Material

Restoring the Constitution Act (PDF)
Memorandum, February 13, 2007

The Military Commissions Act was rushed through Congress in the last session of 2006 with inadequate or no hearings on many of its key provisions. Of primary concern, the act bars detainees in military custody from challenging the legality of their detention through the writ of habeas corpus, an age-old right under the common law. It includes an overly broad definition of “enemy combatant” that, if generally accepted, could subject civilians who provide virtually any kind of support to an armed group, even if far from any battlefield, to military detention and trial. And, for the first time in US history, the law explicitly authorizes the use of evidence obtained through abusive interrogation techniques.  
The Restoring the Constitution Act would undo these troubling provisions. Among other things, the legislation restores detainees’ habeas corpus rights, making sure that the president cannot simply place any non-citizen in military custody on his say-so, without any independent review of the decision to detain. It also adopts a sensible definition of combatant and prohibits the use of any evidence obtained through coercion. The legislation would undo troubling court-stripping provisions of the Military Commissions Act by restoring the right of litigants to raise violations of US international obligations under the Geneva Conventions in a court of law.  
The Restoring the Constitution Act would go a long way toward restoring the moral authority and credibility of the United States as a leader in the promotion of respect for the rule of law around the world. We urge the Senate to enact this important piece of legislation into law.  
The Restoring the Constitution Act

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