Darian court room that is shared by the criminals



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December 2017


Terrorism in court systems


            Terrorism is an unfortunate part of
our lives today in the twenty-first century, and the joint efforts to
extinguish expanding terrorist organizations has greatly increased over the
past several decades. The decision to handle terrorism is ultimately up to the
one who is affected by it the most. Terrorism is something that should be
handled in a military court, not civilian. “On November
13th, 2001, President George W. Bush issued a military order, providing
for the trial by military commission of persons (not including citizens of the
United States) who have committed or aided and assisted in terrorist crimes,
including but not limited to Al-Qaeda members.” This was done to have a second
option when it comes to dealing with terrorists, because although most cases
have been in civil courts, there may come a time when a military commission
would be the only viable option, whether it be for security reasons or even the
basis of what is actually being tried.

            On September 11th, 2001,
the World Trade Center was hit by an airplane carrying innocent people, carried
out by Al-Qaeda insurgents. “Why?”, someone might ask. Simply because there are
people in this world who want to instill fear into the population of a country
and break them apart. It does not sound like a very safe idea to bring a person
who has no problem with killing as many innocent people as they can into the
same court room that is shared by the criminals that are actually a part of our
society. Those criminals have rights as American citizens. Terrorists of course
do not, unless they are a domestic terrorist. Of course, a civilian court may
have the legitimacy and experience you will not find in a military court, but
if someone with intelligence to successfully carry out an attack harming human
beings, or even illegally get themselves into the United States, they do not
belong in the same vicinity as United States citizens. On January 7th,
2015, the Prime Minister of Pakistan had the idea that putting terrorism into
military courts would solve the entire problem of terrorism. This led to the
constitutional amendment allowing this to be done (Kine, 2015).

            Although military courts handle
problems that one would assume is “military” related, terrorism can be act of
war, which is why it is a difficult decision to make when it comes down to what
system should handle the case. Handling
terror suspects in the civil court system is a standard legal procedure, with
nothing out of the ordinary about it, especially when it comes to dealing with
those terrorists captured in the United States (Romero, 2010). When
it comes down to it, there is always the question of security; are the jurors
and judges that are being directly exposed to the unknown risks in the idea of retaliation
by terrorist organizations in response to the conviction and sentencing of
their fellow terrorists? (Vagts, 2003). “The ferocity of Al-Qaeda’s actions
lends credibility to such fears. In a small number of cases we have experienced
violence of strictly domestic origins against judges, jurors and witnesses.”
(Vagts, 2003). Civilian courts also have the possibility of struggling with
certain problems sourcing directly from the way in which the accused were
handled before any sort of arraignment. Usually, the United States Constitution
is read as “requiring that the accused have a judicial hearing within 48 hours
of arrest. Federal law, however, calls for indictment within 30 days of arrest.

Case law does, however, give some latitude for special circumstances, and the
circumstances under which terrorists were arrested in foreign countries and in
combat conditions would surely justify substantial delays in bringing them
before a judge.” (Vagts, 2003).  There is
also the concern that any convictions made by the court could have been heavily
influenced by statements made by the defendant, who could have already been
heavily interrogated. It is likely that these interrogations were not taken
place in accordance with any sort of laws under the constitution.

            Military commissions
have been used throughout history in the attempt to try spies and saboteurs. In
the face of war, they have provided justice on the battlefield when there was
no other logical form available. In a sense, it is safe to say that military commissions
take a better look at evidence and provide more fair convictions. For example, there is Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda members that
are captured or surrender under such circumstances can be tried by military
tribunals if they are deemed “unlawful combatants” under the 1949
Geneva Convention. The convention regarding these prisoners of war defines “unlawful
combatants as participants in an armed conflict who abuse their civilian status
to gain military advantage: those who do not carry arms openly and do not carry
a “fixed distinctive sign” such as a uniform or other insignia that would
identify them as soldiers.” (Slaughter, 2002). Terrorists appear to fall into
this category almost by definition, as their mission depends on the concealment
of their identity before any attack is made.