In a recent article in The Guardian, Richard Dicker discusses the stark contrast between the Nuremberg trial and Guantánamo’s Camp Justice, in light of the politics of the US Government in terms of fair trial rights.
The US government’s willingness to offer a fair trial, as it was the case at Nuremberg, is not reiterated at Guantánamo. On the contrary, the US government restricts the exercise of basic fair trial rights guaranteed by international and US domestic law.
The author states that the Nuremberg trial marked a stunning turning-point in using law to punish the most egregious crimes and laid the foundation for the still-evolving system of international justice. On the other hand, Guantánamo is unlikely to create such a powerful positive precedent.
For instance, anything detainees or their lawyers say in the courtroom is presumed classified, so that none of what they say will ever appear in the public record, explains the author.
Moreover, the prosecutor can unilaterally veto a defense attorney’s decision to call a witness. If this is the case, the lawyer must debate with the prosecutor in front of the judge. For Richard Dicker, this constitutes an unfair allocation of power between prosecution and defense which directly violates the “equality of arms”, and locks in a prosecutorial advantage that undercuts a vigorous and effective defense.
Based on the growing awareness worldwide of the efforts that have succeeded in bringing some of those accused of the world’s worst crimes to justice, Richard Dicker urges policymakers in Washington to raise due process guarantees at Guantánamo if they don’t want to undercut US credibility in pressing for justice elsewhere but also to devalue Nuremberg’s achievements.