The Return of Penal Colonies

120px-Australia_mapaOn Friday, attorneys for six of the Uighurs held in Guantanamo Bay announced that they have been transferred to live on the island of Palau.  (Pitcairn Island must have been unavailable). Perhaps all of the detainees who are the parties in Kiyemba (just taken on certiorari by the Supreme Court) will be resettled to render the case moot.

This ad-hoc way of dealing with the detainee issue strikes me as problematic.  In effect, it allows the Executive Branch unfettered discretion to establish penal colonies around the world and place curbs on the post-release activities of detainees without any due process whatsoever.  While I’m sure most of the detainees would prefer some freedom on some random island over prison, I think that Congress needs to take a look at this practice and consider establishing some guidelines.

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1 Response

  1. Steve Lubet says:

    Pitcairn Island began more as a refuge than as a penal colony, so your comparison may be more apt than you intended. It is China, not the United States, that prevents the Uighurs from returning home safely.