U.S. 2010 Manual for Military Commissions released

The United States Department of Defense has issued a new Manual for Military Commissions. The 280-page document contains comprehensive procedural guidelines, special rules of evidence, and a penal code enumerating prosecutable offenses.

Critics have emphasized the timing of the Manual—hours before the scheduled pre-trial proceedings in the case against Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen currently held in Guantánamo. Amnesty International has issued a press release comparing the 2010 Manual to the one issued by the Bush administration in 2007, criticizing the continued insistence to “reserve[ ] the right to continue to detain individuals indefinitely even if they have been acquitted by a military commission.” Amnesty International argues that indefinite detention “flies in the face of judgments of the International Court of Justice and authoritative legal conclusions stated by the UN Human Rights Committee.”

David Frakt reported in the Huffington Post that while the 2010 edition “on the whole . . . is substantially fairer than the 2006 version of the law,” the inclusion of “some very troubling language in the new Manual relating to the proof required to convict for certain offenses, . . . undermines the Obama Administration’s claims of respect for the law of war and adherence to the rule of law.”

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