Human Rights Group Urges International Court to Investigate U.S. Officials, Contractors

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Center for Constitutional Rights Submits “Victim’s Representations” in Support of Pending ICC Prosecution

January 31, 2018, The Hague – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) submitted a filing to the International Criminal Court (ICC), concerning two men detained at Guantánamo, in support of the ICC Prosecutor’s request to open a formal investigation into crimes in and related to the armed conflict in Afghanistan. The filing, which includes two “victim’s representations,” draws from publicly available information to detail the treatment, including torture, that the men endured in CIA black sites, proxy-detention, and DOD facilities, as well as their ongoing indefinite detention at Guantánamo, elaborates on the importance of an ICC investigation into these international crimes, and elaborates on the suggested scope of the inquiry to ensure the investigation captures the full liability of those who bear the greatest criminal responsibility. The Center for Constitutional Rights calls it a long-awaited opportunity for accountability.

“Impunity has been the norm for U.S. officials who created and ran a torture program that centered on ‘black sites’ and other detention facilities in Afghanistan, but extended to other black-site host countries, including Romania, Poland, or Lithuania, and ‘proxy-detention’ sites in places like Jordan,” said CCR Senior Staff Attorney Katherine Gallagher who serves as victims’ representative for purposes of today’s submission to the ICC. “We have long sought accountability for U.S. violations, both domestically and abroad. Now the victims of these grave crimes have the opportunity to present their view that the ICC must take action to hold U.S.-actors accountable.”

The investigation sought by the ICC Prosecutor would seek to hold accountable three groups of perpetrators—the Taliban, Afghan forces, and members of the U.S. armed forces and the CIA—for crimes against humanity and war crimes. CCR’s filing focuses on the U.S. role; Afghan victims have submitted representations focusing on violations by the Taliban or Afghan forces. The court has jurisdiction over international crimes committed on any of the 123 State Party’s territories, including Afghanistan since May 1, 2003, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrators. The ICC is unique among international criminal tribunals in that it allows for victims to directly participate in proceedings, including at the investigation stage. The victims’ representation will be reviewed by a pre-trial chamber of three ICC judges who will decide whether to approve the Prosecutor’s request to open a formal investigation. Today’s filing in support of the ICC investigation concerns two participating detainees represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Sharqawi Al Hajj and Guled Hassan Duran.

CCR maintains that an ICC prosecution is crucial to demonstrate that no one is above the law regardless of their power or position, that those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious international crimes will be held accountable and not enjoy global impunity, and that all victims of serious crimes can and will have their claims heard and adjudicated by an independent and impartial tribunal. CCR also urges the ICC to include CIA proxy-detention and continuing crimes at Guantánamo in its investigation, to consider crimes against humanity as well as war crimes for U.S. actors, and to include senior civilian and military leadership as well as private contractors among the potential perpetrators to be investigated for possible prosecution in The Hague.

CCR has long sought to hold Bush administration officials accountable for their role in the torture of detainees at Guantánamo, Afghanistan, and secret “black sites” around the globe.

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  • Co-signatories

    The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for more than 16 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. CCR is responsible for many Guantánamo cases in many venues, representing men in their habeas cases in federal court and before the military commissions and Periodic Review Boards, the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking accountability in international courts.

    The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

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