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Appeals court rejects lawsuit on Guantanamo suicides

WASHINGTON - An appellate court ruled yesterday that the families of two Guantanamo detainees who the government says hanged themselves in their cells cannot sue for damages in US courts.

The families of the detainees claimed that former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other US officials were responsible for the deaths in 2006 and sued for unspecified money damages. They say the detainees died after being subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, violations of the Geneva Conventions, and cruel and unusual punishment at the US detention center.

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But three conservative judges on the federal appeals court in Washington ruled that US courts do not have authority to consider suits related to treatment of Guantanamo detainees under the Military Commissions Act passed in 2006. They said the Supreme Court has given federal judges the authority only to determine whether detainees are being properly held or should be released.

The judges wrote that although the families argued the Military Commissions Act’s failure to allow treatment suits is unconstitutional because it does not provide a way to challenge to violations of constitutional rights, “the only remedy they seek is money damages, and, as the government rightly argues, such remedies are not constitutionally required.’’

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