Social Workers Support Human Rights and Social Justice for Detainees

Aug 29, 2007

NASW signs on to amicus brief with other human rights organizations

Upholding the profession of social work’s commitment to human rights and social justice, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) supports the ability of Guantanamo detainees to challenge their detention through our Constitutional system of government checks and balances.

The cases, Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. U.S., represent a clear violation of the rights of these detainees to gain access to the courts and to question the legality of their detention. The cases do not directly address the innocence or guilt of the detainees, but rather the circumstances in which they are being held and their access to independent judicial review.

Social workers uphold the key tenets of social justice and human rights — by taking a stand  against the unchecked use of power by the executive branch,€ said Dr. Elvira Craig de Silva, NASW president. We serve as advocates so that everyone may have access to justice and basic legal rights under our Constitutional system of government.

The NASW Code of Ethics notes that one of the core values of the profession is social justice. To achieve social justice, governments must be able to guarantee access to due process of law.

Habeas corpus is one of the fundamental elements of the U.S. legal system. To strip courts of jurisdiction to review the legality of the detention overrides the detainees€™ human rights. Social workers’ concern for social justice and human rights underlies our vision of equal access to justice for all people, regardless of where they are detained and for what reason.

The Amicus Brief was filed by The Constitution Project, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch and The Rutherford Institute through the efforts of a pro bono legal team from Fulbright & Jaworski in Washington, DC. NASW, along with a coalition of other non-governmental organizations, signed on to the brief, which was filed August 24, 2007.

For more information about this and other briefs that NASW files on behalf of the social work profession, visit the NASW Legal Defense Fund.

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