February 23, 2009


The New York State Bar Association, urging in a resolution that the Obama Administration ensure detainees held at Guantanamo Bay receive all due process rights afforded to them by law, advocated successfully before the American Bar Association House of Delegates at its recent mid-year meeting.

The resolution calls upon President Obama to provide that:

  • all detainees who are held on criminal charges and those who are expected to be charged are prosecuted in Federal District Courts unless the Attorney General certifies otherwise;
  • all individuals currently detained at Guantánamo who are no longer considered to be "enemy combatants" should be promptly released or resettled;
  • all individuals detained as enemy combatants at Guantánamo are granted a prompt habeas corpus hearing with full due process rights and provided access to counsel and the right to review and confront the evidence against them, subject to appropriate conditions as may be set by the court; and
  • no individual should be detained as an "enemy combatant" except pursuant to an act of Congress.

In presenting the resolution to the ABA House of Delegates, Fernando Bohorquez (Baker Hostetler), Chair of the Association's Civil Rights Committee said, "Now with the possibility for systemic change on the horizon it is not the time to remain silent. We ask this organization to engage with the President in the process of restoring our nation's commitment to the rule of law."

Bernice K. Leber, President of the New York State Bar Association (Arent Fox LLP) said, "In our system of justice, due process under the law is a fundamental right provided to those charged with a crime. For too long however, in places like Guantanamo Bay, our nation has endured a system that is fundamentally unjust. As a result, the standing of our nation has suffered domestically and internationally. We urge President Obama and members of his administration to right this wrong and in connection with the Task Force he has appointed, enact the measures set forth in our resolution."

The resolution was co-sponsored by the Bar Association of Erie County, the Beverly Hills Bar Association and the Task Force on Treatment of Enemy Combatants.

For a full copy of the resolution visit www.nysba.org/guantanamoresolution.


The 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, the Association's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.