Today, a Virginia federal judge ruled that the treatment of three Iraqi individuals formerly detained at the infamous “hard site” at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq constitutes torture, war crimes, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, based on a thorough review of U.S. domestic and international law. The ruling also held that the men have sufficiently alleged that employees of private military contractor CACI Premier Technology conspired to commit and aided and abetted these crimes. The case, Al Shimari v. CACI, was filed nearly ten years ago, and CACI has repeatedly argued that, even if its employees were involved in torture and other abuse, the company is shielded from liability. Today’s 54-page ruling definitively rejected that position, as well as attempts by certain Bush-era officials to water down the prohibition against torture, and allowed the lawsuit to proceed against CACI.
“The decision is a historic judicial rebuke to the Bush administration’s torture paradigm, which had sought to evade the well-established prohibitions against torture, and is one of the clearest statements in the post-9/11 era that victims of torture and grave human rights abuses can access the courts for a remedy,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy. “The court confirmed what was plain to the eye: that the horrific treatment our clients endured at Abu Ghraib was unlawful and that, in a country operating under the rule of law, those responsible can be held accountable.”
While a number of low-level military officers were court-martialed over their roles in the abuse, CACI has gone unpunished – and continues to reap millions of dollars in government contracts – even though U.S. military investigators long ago concluded that CACI interrogators conspired with the U.S. soldiers who were later court martialed to “soften up” detainees for interrogations, according to statements by co-conspirators. A U.S. Army general referred to the treatment as “sadistic, blatant, and wanton” criminal abuses.
Today’s opinion includes a detailed account of what happened to CCR’s clients, Suhail Al Shimari, Asa’ad Al-Zuba’e, and Salah Al-Ejaili, including:
[being] subjected to repeated stress positions, including at least one that made [Plaintiff Al-Ejaili] vomit black liquid; sexually-related humiliation; disruptive sleeping patterns and long periods of being kept naked or without food or water; and multiple instances of being threatened with dogs…being doused with hot and cold liquids…sexual assault and threats of rape; being left in a cold shower until [Plaintiff Zuba’e] was unable to stand; dog bites and repeated beatings, including with sticks and to the genitals…at least one [stress position] that lasted an entire day and resulted in [Zuba’e] urinating and defecating on himself; and threats that his family would be brought to Abu Ghraib…systematic beatings…with a baton and rifle, [being] he was hit against the wall; [being] forced to kneel on sharp stones, causing lasting damage to [Plaintiff Al Shimari’s] legs; …being kept in a dark cell and with loud music nearby; threats of being shot… electric shocks; being dragged around the prison by a rope tied around [Al Shimari’s] neck; and having fingers inserted into [Al Shimari’s] rectum.
The Court concluded: “it is clear that the abuse suffered by plaintiffs was intended to inflict severe pain or suffering and rises to the level of torture.”
Al Shimari v. CACI was filed under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), which allows non-U.S. citizens to sue for violations of international law committed abroad that “touch and concern” the United States. The opinion concludes that the political question doctrine is inapplicable to “cognizable claims” under the ATS.
Published on CCR on February 21, 2018
The Enough Project, which aims to end genocide and crimes against humanity in Africa, has addressed an open letter to several UN Commissioners expressing its concern over "the crackdown on peaceful protests and the wave of arbitrary arrests and continued incommunicado detentions by Sudanese government forces".
The letter also cites "the excessive use of force by Sudanese authorities".
The open letter is addressed to the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan Aristide Nononsi, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association Annalisa Ciampi, and UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst.
"We, the *undersigned Sudanese, African and international organisations, write to you in your capacities as Special Procedure mandate holders to draw your attention to the worrying developments concerning the excessive use of force by Sudanese authorities to disperse peaceful protests across Sudan. We urge you to call on the Government of Sudan to respect the peoples' rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression as guaranteed in international standards and UN treaties ratified by Sudan and refrain from using excessive force to disperse protests," the letter states.
"We urge you to call on the Government of Sudan to respect the peoples' rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression... and refrain from using excessive force to disperse protests."
"The Sudanese authorities' reaction to the recent January 2018 protests is contrary to Sudan's commitment to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in regional and international treaties to which it is party. Since January 7, the authorities, including the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and police have beaten peaceful protestors with sticks and batons and fired tear gas and live ammunition into crowds. On January 7, in El Geneina, West Darfur one student was killed and six other students were injured after joint forces of the National Intelligence and Security Services and Sudanese Police used live ammunition to disperse a peaceful student march. At least five people were killed and 26 others sustained gunshot wounds when joint forces of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) opened live ammunition on a crowd of protestors at Hasahisa camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Zalingei, Central Darfur, on January 20.
"From January 6 to February 6, the security forces have arrested and detained scores of Sudanese citizens including opposition political party leaders, human rights defenders/activists, journalists, student activists and others for prolonged periods without charge or trial."
The letter also expresses concern about the prolonged detention of individuals, as well as "the repeated confiscation by the Sudanese authorities of national newspapers to prevent the coverage of the nationwide January 2018 protests".
The letter calls on the government of Sudan to:
* The letter is signed by:
African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)
Al-Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment, Sudan (KACE)
Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)
DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project).
Face Past for Future Foundation ( FP4F)
Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum
Human Rights Watch
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)
National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders- Uganda (NCHRD-U)
Sudan Democracy First Group
The MagkaSama Project, France
The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
Eltigani Hassan Mohamed Idis, Sudanese Advocate
BakriJebril Mohamed, Sudanese Advocate
Mohanad Mustafa Elnour, Sudanese Advocate
Amani Osman Hamdi, Sudanese Advocate
Published on All Africa on February 15, 2018
The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies has continued to receive information on more arbitrary arrests and detention of individuals, post-print censorship of newspapers, release of detainees, criminal charges against peaceful protestors, constitutional petition challenging the continued arbitrary detention of individuals in connection with the crackdown on peaceful protests in Sudan.
The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) have carried out a mass campaign of arrests targeting individuals such as human rights defenders, journalists, political party leaders and others with arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention, in most cases incommunicado, for their participation or suspected participation in the protests that occurred across Sudan in January 2018.
ACJPS remains concerned about the continued prolonged detention of hundreds of Sudanese citizens without charge or appearance before a court of law to determine the legality of their detention. ACJPS condemns the on-going silencing of political opposition members, activists, and human rights defenders through arbitrary detention, despite constitutional guarantees to the freedom of expression, association, and assembly.
ACJPS is currently aware of 29 individuals detained incommunicado by the NISS in Khartoum and Port Sudan states following arrests that occurred from 30 January to 6 February. In particular, there is concern about the safety and wellbeing of Mr. Mudathier Mohamed Abdul Rahim who was arrested by the NISS of Port Sudan on 4 February and whose whereabouts remain unknown. Amidst these recent detentions, the NISS has released 12 individuals who were arrested during and after the crackdown on peaceful protests that took place in Khartoum on 16 and 17 January, two Sudanese daily newspapers had their daily print runs confiscated by the NISS on 1 and 6 February and a second constitutional case challenging the indefinite detention of 9 individuals detained during and after the crackdown on peaceful protests on 16 and 17 January was filed on 30 January.
We call upon the Government of Sudan to guarantee the safety and well-being of all detainees and grant them immediate and unequivocal access to their lawyers and family members, medical services and release them in the absence of valid legal charges consistent with international standards.
ACJPS reiterates previous calls to the Government of Sudan to immediately end its policies of pre- and post- print censorship of newspapers, which severely circumscribes the availability of information in the public sphere and hinders freedom of expression and access to information. We recommend that the Sudanese Government provide compensation to the various newspapers for financial loss incurred as a result of the confiscations.
Read full report here.
Published on the ACJPS on February 7, 2018