United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has welcomed Thursday’s decision by the United States Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush that the United States Constitution extends to foreign detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that they have the right to challenge their detention by habeas corpus in the civilian courts.

“The Supreme Court has sent a vitally important message that the protections afforded by fundamental human rights guarantees extend to these individuals and that effective remedies must be available to them. After up to six years in detention in Guantánamo Bay without satisfactory review of the reasons for their detention, these detainees have the right to prompt review in the civilian courts,” Ms. Arbour said.

“I welcome the Court’s recognition that security and liberty are not trade-offs, but can be reconciled through the framework of the law, and that it is the courts that apply that law,” she said. “This has long been the hallmark of American constitutionalism.”

The High Commissioner expressed the hope that, now that these legal issues have been clearly and definitively settled, the civilian courts will be able to move promptly to assess the situation of individual detainees.

The High Commissioner submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court. In it, she argued, as a matter of international law, for the same conclusion the Court reached today.