The Gitmo Observer was founded by faculty, staff, students, and graduates of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law (IU McKinney).
First, the Pentagon’s Guantanamo Bay Military Commission Convening Authority granted “NGO Observer Status” to the IU McKinney Law’s Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL). The PIHRL then established the “Military Commission Observation Project” (“MCOP”) to implement PIHRL responsibilities as a selected NGO Observer. MCOP representatives are traveling to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to attend, observe, analyze, critique, and publish materials on the hearings. Others from IU McKinney Law may also travel to the Ft. Meade, Maryland military base to view the same Guantanamo Bay hearings via secure video-link. All IU McKinney Law Affiliates (faculty, staff, students, and graduates) are eligible to participate in MCOP activities, and are eligible to be considered for travel to Ft. Meade or Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for hearings and trials. The MCOP is guided by an Advisory Council.
The MCOP has also created a Resource Database on The Gitmo Observer website. The Resource Database contains full copies of the Geneva Conventions & their Protocols Additional, the Military Commission Act of 2009 and other Military Commission official documents, International Human Rights Law Treaties, the U.S. Constitution, and other sources of law that bind the U.S.
The MCOP is preparing the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual to serve as a guide to all Guantanamo Bay Observers and anyone else interested in the hearings and trials. The Manual will identify binding international and domestic law that governs the right to a fair trial, and identify the standards used in interpreting and applying that law in the context of pre-commission (pre-trial) hearings and the commissions (trials) themselves. NGO Observers are charged with ascertaining whether the right to a fair trial is being afforded at Guantanamo Bay. The accused (defendants) are entitled to a fair trial at Guantanamo Bay. The prosecution is entitled to a fair trial at Guantanamo Bay. The victims and the families of the victims are entitled to a fair trial at Guantanamo Bay. The general public is entitled to a fair trial at Guantanamo Bay. All stakeholders are entitled to a fair trial at Guantanamo Bay.
NGO Observers will be better able to ascertain whether all stakeholders are being afforded their right to a fair trial if the NGO Observers know, in the first instance, what the right to a fair trial entails. The Military Commission Observation Manual will explain what the right to a fair trial entails. The Manual will contain checklists that Observers might use to help in their monitoring responsibilities. Observers will be able to apply the law as found in the Manual to the facts the Observers witness on the ground at Guantanamo Bay, and then make informed, reasonable judgments as to whether the accused, the prosecution, the victims and their families, the witnesses, and all other stakeholders are being fully afforded their right to a fair trial.
Any IU Affiliate — faculty, staff, student, graduate — is eligible to participate in our Military Commission Observation Project. All IU Affiliates are eligible to be considered for travel to Ft. Meade or Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
- Hoosiers play integral roles in historic military commissions, The Indiana Lawyer, June 4, 2014
- IU McKinney students observe trial proceedings at Guantanamo Bay, The Indiana Lawyer, June 4, 2014