Preventive Detention in the Law of Armed Conflict: Throwing Away the Key?

Since 9/11 the U.S. government has been wrestling with the problem of how to deal with the terrorist threat on U.S. soil from al Qaeda and its affiliates.  Many aspects of this problem, such as means of capture or targeted killing of suspected terrorists, interrogation techniques, and surveillance methods have been widely debated elsewhere.  Here the focus is on the issue of preventive detention, which for the purposes of this article means detention of individuals suspected of being terrorists in order to forestall attacks in the post-9/11 era.   This article focuses on the LOAC model of preventive detention and analyzes the legal framework, duration of LOAC detention, procedures for challenging that detention, and evolution of those procedures in the last ten years.

By Diane Webber

Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales; LL.B. (Hons.), University of London; LL.M., Georgetown University; S.J.D. Candidate, Georgetown University.

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