Author: johannaleblanc

My Monitoring Trip to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Cancelled

cancelledThe Pentagon approved my nomination to travel to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to monitor the case against Hadi al Iraqi, and alleged high level member of al Qaeda who was purportedly a liaison with the Taliban. As a representative of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law’s Military Commission Observation Project, my job was to attend, observe, analyze, critique and report on Hadi al Iraqi’s hearings. My hearing dates were scheduled for 26 February to 3 March 2017.

I recently received an e-mail from Professor George Edwards (founder of IU McKinney’s Guantanamo Project) indicating that the Pentagon had cancelled Hadi al Iraqi’s hearings for that week. I felt somewhat disappointed because I was really looking forward to attending the hearing and further contributing to IU McKinney’s Guantanamo Bay work.

Prior to the cancellation, I could not stop talking about it with friends and former classmates. I even called my younger sister and she had no idea why I was interested in attending such hearing. I talked her ears off about who the defendants were and the crimes they had been accused of. I tried to share with her about international crimes, criminal justice, the rule of law, and the importance of transparency in proceedings such as this. I understand that those selected to monitor such proceedings play a very important role in human rights for all stakeholders in these military commission proceedings.

I remain hopeful that I will be able to monitor hearings of other defendants in March, either at Ft. Meade or Guantanamo Bay.

Johanna Leblanc, J.D., Indiana University McKinney School of Law

Observer, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Military Commission Observation Project

Program in International Human Rights Law

Indiana University McKinney School of Law

 

 

 

Nominated to Travel to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Monitor Hearings Against Hadi al Iraqi

joanna-leblanc-graduation-photoIn 2016, I received my doctor of jurisprudence (J.D.) from Indiana University McKinney School of Law, where I studied international human rights law and was active in many human rights and civil rights projects, in the U.S. and overseas.

Now, I am part of the law school’s Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP), which was founded by Professor George Edwards. The MCOP, among other things, sends students, faculty, staff and graduates to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to serve as observers or monitors for military commissions that were created to try alleged perpetrators of war crimes.

As a monitor, it is my job to (a) attend; (b) observe; (c) analyze; (d) critique; and (e) report on military commission war crimes hearings at Guantanamo Bay.

I have many reasons for wanting to travel to Guantanamo Bay for live hearings, or to travel to Ft. Meade, Maryland where the hearings are simultaneously broadcast via CCTV from Guantanamo to a secure facility on the Ft. Meade army base. I will talk more about those reasons in my next blog post.

For now, I am focusing on the hearings I am scheduled to attend on 26 February to 3 March 2 017 – against a man named Hadi al Iraqi (or Nashwan al Tamir).

hadi-al-iraqi

Hadi al Iraqi

Hadi al Iraqi is a 51- or 52-year-old Iraqi citizen. He was taken into custody in late 2006, spent some time in Central Intelligence Agency custody, and was transferred to Guantanamo in April of 2007. He is considered a high-valued detainees (HVD), and is accused of, among other things, cross-border attacks against US and coalition troops from 2002 to 2004.

More on my background

I was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I moved to the United States at the age of ten (10). In addition to my J.D. from IU McKinney, I also hold a master’s degree in public administration from Florida A&M University (FAMU) and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Bethune Cookman University.

During law school, I was a part of the Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL) which was founded by Professor George Edwards.  Through this program I was able to travel to South East Asia, Southern Africa, and Western Africa where I worked on access to legal justice, child marriage/women’s rights, and electoral reforms. With my exposure through our world renowned human rights program at IU-McKinney, I further developed an interest in international laws and politics. In particular, I am interested in how international law and politics help shape domestic and international policies regarding immigration, trade, and other aspects of relationships between countries.

I look forward to contributing to the work of the MCOP, specifically the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual that the project has been working on.

Johanna Leblanc, J.D., Indiana University McKinney School of Law

Observer, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Military Commission Observation Project

Program in International Human Rights Law

Indiana University McKinney School of Law