Georgetown Law Granted Observer Status at Guantánamo

September 11, 2014 —

The U.S. Department of Defense has approved Georgetown University Law Center as an official observer of the military commissions proceedings at the U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. In October, two students, Kayleigh Golish, L'15 and B. Shaw Drake, L'15, will be the first to represent the Law Center as observers.  

"The Guantánamo observer program is emblematic of the Law Center’s long tradition of engaging with the most important law and policy issues of the day," said Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor. "Georgetown prides itself on experiential learning, and this latest initiative is a tremendous opportunity for students to see the law as it is applied." 

The observer status will allow Law Center students, faculty and staff to travel to Guantánamo Bay, where they will view proceedings along with other non-governmental organization (NGO) observers, the media, and family members of victims. Currently, there are two cases with active hearings, the Al-Nashiri case and the 9/11 case, which includes charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The initiative is a joint project between Georgetown Law’s Human Rights Institute and Center on National Security and the Law

"Georgetown is uniquely positioned as the leading national security law school to give students the chance to observe military commissions at Guantánamo," said Professor Laura K. Donohue, director of the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law.

"Georgetown is committed to giving students opportunities like this to learn while working alongside leading NGOs and human rights organizations," said Professor from Practice Andrew I. Schoenholtz, director of the Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute. 

The Office of Military Commissions first granted observer status to five NGOs in 2003: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Bar Association. Since 2011, 18 NGOs have been approved to send observers to view the commission proceedings.   

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