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Armed Services Committee Proposal: Let Gitmo Detainees Enter Pleas in Civilian Court

Image: Armed Services Committee Proposal: Let Gitmo Detainees Enter Pleas in Civilian Court
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By    |   Friday, 13 May 2016 03:42 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee announced that it is considering a plan to allow detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to plead guilty to criminal charges in civilian courts.

The measure could help reduce the population at the prison, according to a report in the New York Times.

It would allow detainees who plead guilty using video teleconference to get transfers to other countries to serve out their sentences. The bill would also allow detainees to be transferred temporarily to the U.S. if they need emergency medical care.

The prison now contains 80 detainees, according to a Guantanamo docket created by the New York Times. 10 have been charged or convicted using a military commission. 26 have been recommended for transfer, and 44 have not been charged or recommended for transfer.

The committee announced that the measure had been added to the annual Defense Authorization Act. Now it goes to the full Senate for a vote.

The legislation continues to ban bringing detainees to the U.S. Obama has asked Congress to lift that ban. The president’s plan to close the prison includes bringing a small amount of detainees to a wartime prison on U.S. soil.

Civilian court offers some advantages over military commissions for detainees. Detainees who were imprisoned for conspiracy, material support to terrorism, and participating in a terrorist group but not being linked to an attack could plead guilty in civilian court. Those offenses are not available in military commissions.

Civilian courts count time served toward sentences. Most Guantanamo detainees have been imprisoned for around 14 years with no trials.

The Human Rights First organization has urged Congress to reject parts of the National Defense Authorization Act. In a press release, the group said the act has rules in it that make it more difficult to transfer detainees.

The press release said, "Closing Gauntanamo Bay is vital to our national security."

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The Senate Armed Services Committee announced that it is considering a plan to allow detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to plead guilty to criminal charges in civilian courts.
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2016-42-13
Friday, 13 May 2016 03:42 PM
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