Nominated for Travel
I am a student at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, and I am currently participating within the law school’s Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP) as an NGO Observer. With the Pentagon’s approval, I am scheduled to attend, observe (and be observed), analyze, critique, and report on military commission hearings at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (GTMO) in the case against Nashwan al-Tamir, referred to by the prosecution as Abd al Hadi al Iraqi (“Tamir / Hadi”). The hearings are scheduled to occur between 8 April 2018 and 14 April 2018.
Tamir / Hadi is an alleged senior member of al-Qaeda, and is accused of commanding attacks against US and coalition forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan in collaboration the Taliban, among other charges. Tamir / Hadi has been detained at GTMO since 2007, and has been the subject of criminal trial proceedings there since 2014.
Background and Interest in Observing
I became interested in the MCOP through my past engagements with the law school’s exceptional Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL). During the summer of 2017, I had the opportunity to support human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) spanning across three continents as a PIHRL Intern. I worked with NGOs in Poland, Uganda, and Mongolia on a broad range of public interest and human rights work.
With the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Poland, I generated research presented in amici curiae briefs in the European Court of Human Rights. With the Community Transformation Foundation Network in Uganda, I conducted field interviews with survivors of intimate partner violence to supplement ongoing impact reports. With the LGBT Centre in Mongolia, I helped train over 100 police officers to better understand Mongolia’s newly-established hate crime laws and to better support survivors of hate crimes.
It is through these tremendous experiences that I developed a deeper appreciation for international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law. This appreciation immediately attracted me to the MCOP, as the crux of its mission is to ensure the U.S. Government follows its enduring mandate to respect fair trial rights and other internationally-recognized human rights for all stakeholders during GTMO proceedings.
Preparing to Observe
To prepare myself to travel to GTMO as an NGO Observer, I have primarily been reviewing several documents authored by Professor George E. Edwards with contributions from several other Indiana University McKinney Law School affiliates. First among these are the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual (Volume I) and the Appendices to Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual (Volume II). These Manuals identify the internationally-recognized rights that apply to fair trials in the U.S. Military Commission context. They also detail the roles and objectives of NGO Observers in this context, and have therefore been invaluable resources during my preparations.
Next among these is the Know Before You Go To Guantanamo Bay Guide. The Guide further details the roles of NGO Observers at GTMO, and seeks to assist Observers with all manner of logistics as they prepare to travel and observe hearings. Information regarding how to travel to GTMO, how to stay healthy while at GTMO, and even where to eat while at GTMO are all included in the Guide. Not only has this been informative, but it has offered me tremendous peace of mind, particularly as a first-time Observer.
Beyond these materials, I have also been reviewing publicly accessible GTMO case information available through the U.S. Military Commission website – www.mc.mil. This has allowed me to better familiarize myself with the substantive proceedings in the case against Tamir / Hadi, and has granted me a better understanding of the procedural context of Military Commissions in general.
Finally, I have arranged for own my travel to Joint Base Andrews in Washington, D.C., which is required for all MCOP Representatives. I remain excited for the journey to come, and to further engage in my important role as an NGO Observer.
Please stay tuned for future posts.
Jacob Irven (J.D. Candidate, ’18)
NGO Monitor, U.S. Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP)
Program in International Human Rights Law
Indiana University McKinney School of Law