Monday, March 02, 2015

Military Judge Lifts Order Accommodating Religious Concern of GITMO Detainee

The Miami Herald reported yesterday that a military judge, Navy Capt. J.K. Waits, has lifted his prior restraining order that had barred women guards from being used at Guantanamo Bay to transfer former al Quaida commander Abd al Hadi al Iraqi to and from meetings with his lawyers. Hadi had objected on religious grounds to the physical contact with female guards that necessarily occurs during the transfers. However, female guards then filed complaints with the Defense Department's Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity claiming that the orders amount to gender discrimination. (See prior posting.) While the Feb. 24 decision lifting the restraining order is still under seal for security review, lawyers who have seen it say it is not based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but instead on a strict line of case law.  When released, the opinion will be available at the Office of Military Commissions website.

In response to the decision lifting the restraining order, al Hadi's lawyer issued a statement saying:
We respect the decision by the Commission, but believe that Judge Waits and JTF GTMO misunderstand how important Hadi al-Iraqi's religion is to him. Again, we are asking for a very simple accommodation so a devout Muslim, pending trial, can continue to practice his religion without restriction and being subjected to a violent force cell extraction before attending mandatory medical appointments, legal meetings, court sessions and all other essential visits.