Hurricane Irma — Cancelled Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Military Commission Hearings?

A military flight is scheduled to depart for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, tomorrow, Tuesday, 6 September 2027, ferrying dozens of legal professionals and others to a pre-sentencing hearing for Mr. al Darbi, who pleaded guilty to charges related to a tanker bombed off Yemen’s coast in 2002.

But Hurricane Irma appears to be barreling towards Cuba, making travel to the remote war court precarious, jeopardizing the Thursday to Friday hearings.

Tuesday image of Hurricane Irma’s trajectory — with Cuba in her sights

My role as legal monitor

I am scheduled to be on that plane tomorrow from Andrews Air Force Base to Guantanamo.

I am an independent legal monitor, invited to observe hearings pursuant to the Pentagon’s stated desire for Guantanamo Bay transparency. I examine rights and interests of all categories of Guantanamo Bay stakeholders, including rights and interests of the defendants, the prosecution, victims and their families, media, the public, the prison guard force, and others. On these missions I am typically joined by other monitors representing human rights and other  non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

No cancellation notice

As of 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, 5 September 2016, we have received no official notification of any flight or hearing cancellation.

Of course we know that the Office of Military Commisions has their hands full sorting out logistics for this week’s scheduled pre-trial hearings, but also hearings for the next three weeks. They handle matters such as the flights for everyone who travels to Guantanamo, multiple categories of travel and security paperwork, accommodations on the ground at Guantanamo, local transportation, and escorts. And when hearings are cancelled, arrangements for all the above also need to be cancelled–and then rescheduled.

Should we proceed to Andrews at the crack of dawn tomorrow for the scheduled flight? Or skip it, even if it is going forward, given Irma? When will Mr. al Darbi’s pre-sentencing hearing occur? 

Stay tuned!

Mr. al Darbi, of Saudi Arabia, whose pre-sentencing hearing is scheduled for Guantanamo Bay for 7-9 September 2017

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