International Criminal Trials for the Guantanamo 'Hard Cases': A Sensible Option

Harv. Int'l Rev. (Online Perspectives), 2009

4 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2013 Last revised: 27 Jul 2013

See all articles by Shane Reeves

Shane Reeves

United States Military Academy, West Point

Date Written: March 2, 2009


On January 22, 2009, US President Barack Obama, in one of his first official acts, issued an executive order requiring the closure of the controversial detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. However, closing Guantanamo is seemingly impossible as a number of detained individuals deemed unsuitable for release or transfer remain imprisoned in a type of legal purgatory. This quagmire raises obvious, yet difficult questions: what is the proper venue for trying the Guantanamo “hard cases”? Further, how does the United States balance its competing interests of holding accountable those culpable individuals while reclaiming its international leadership in promoting adherence to the rule of law? This article argues that answers to these questions, as well as the solution for closing Guantanamo Bay detention facilities, can only be found by moving beyond the endless and irresolvable debates over the legitimacy of military commissions versus the viability of the federal court system in the prosecution of the Guantanamo “hard cases." Instead, the United States must find, or help create, an international forum to try the remaining Guantanamo detainees as these venues are generally accepted as the proper setting for dispensing justice when atrocities − such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, and, arguably, terrorism − are committed.

Keywords: Guantanamo, Gitmo, terrorism, war on terror, military commissions, international tribunal, federal prosecution of terrorists, extremists, propaganda

JEL Classification: K10, K33

Suggested Citation

Reeves, Shane, International Criminal Trials for the Guantanamo 'Hard Cases': A Sensible Option (March 2, 2009). Harv. Int'l Rev. (Online Perspectives), 2009. Available at SSRN:

Shane Reeves (Contact Author)

United States Military Academy, West Point ( email )

600 Thayer Rd
West Point, NY 10996
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics