On 5 May 2012, at the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a US Army Colonel, in his role as a military commission judge, is due to conduct the arraignment of five men who have been in US custody without trial for approaching a decade.
The route taken to get to this point is one that any government committed to human rights values should view as a betrayal of such principles.
At the hearing on 5 May, at which Amnesty International will have an observer, the charges against the men will be read out and they will be asked how they plead.[i] This will be their second arraignment, the first having been held four years earlier, on 5 June 2008, under the previous US administration. Since then, the charges have been dismissed, a decision taken to transfer the men from Guantánamo to the US mainland to bring them to trial in civilian court, that decision reversed, the case handed back to the Pentagon, and charges for trial by military commission re-filed.
[i] Rule 904, Manual for Military Commissions, 2010 edition.