This website is an archive of the work of Marietje Schaake in the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019. Marietje can be reached at

Parliamentary Question: US Administration decision to lift the suspension on 'military commission' trials at Guantanamo Bay


Parliamentary questions

10 March 2011 O-000056/2011   Question for oral answer to the Commission Rule 115 Sophia in 't Veld, Baroness Sarah Ludford, Renate Weber, Sonia Alfano, Marietje Schaake, Gianni Vattimo, Nathalie Griesbeck, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Louis Michel, on behalf of the ALDE Group Subject: US Administration decision to lift the suspension on 'military commission' trials at Guantanamo Bay  On 22 January 2009, President Obama ordered the suspension of the filing of new ‘military commission’ charges, freezing the previous US Administration’s decision allowing trials of suspects detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by military commissions. The freeze implied that terror suspects were to be tried in federal civilian courts on the US mainland, while President Obama also ordered the closure of Guantanamo within a year. On 7 March 2011, the US President lifted the 2-year freeze, thereby permitting the revival of ‘military commission’ trials, and ordered the practice of holding detainees indefinitely without charge, as happens in Guantanamo, to be backed up by legislation. A review process allowing for cases to be reconsidered after the first year and then every 4 years thereafter is also foreseen. Some 172 detainees remain in Guantanamo, of whom around 40 have been earmarked for trial in either criminal courts or military commissions. Since 9/11, only a handful of cases have been dealt with in military commissions, mostly with the suspects pleading guilty, while more than 170 anti-terror prosecutions in civilian courts were successful. The European Parliament has repeatedly called for the closure of the Guantanamo detention facility and welcomed the halting of the proceedings of military commissions(1), calling on the US to ensure that Guantánamo detainees are granted their human rights and fundamental freedoms, on the basis of international and United States constitutional law, and that any detainee against whom the United States has sufficient evidence is properly tried without delay in a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent, impartial tribunal and, if convicted, imprisoned in the United States(2). Will the Commission, and notably the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, raise with the US authorities the EU’s serious concerns about the recent decision to lift the suspension of military commission trials, indefinite detention, the continuous postponement of the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and the fact that the fight against terrorism can and must be conducted in full respect of fundamental rights standards? Which actions and initiatives will the Commission, and notably the High Representative, take towards the US authorities to resolve this matter? (1) European Parliament resolution of 19.2.2009 on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners (P6_TA(2009)0073) (2) European Parliament resolution of 4.2.2009 on the return and resettlement of the Guantanamo detention facility inmates (P6_TA(2009)0045)