Center for Constitutional Rights: June is Torture Awareness Month, and June 26 is International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
Center for Constitutional Rights June 22, 2015
CCR is marking these occasions with a week of blog content focusing on our anti-torture work in a variety of cases and several events in Washington, DC as well: a panel discussion on “Legalized Torture: From Guantánamo Bay to Rikers” on June 23; a “Stop Torture” rally on June 26; and a Ramadan Solidarity Iftar in front of the White House called “Be a Voice Not an Echo,” also on June 26. If you are in the area, please come for one or all of these events! And wherever you are, if you have not yet signed our call for President Obama to fire CIA Director John Brennan in the wake of the latest details to emerge about the U.S. use of torture, please add your name today.
Our dogged pursuit of torturers over years and even decades is one of CCR’s signature commitments. CCR represents torture survivors like Majid Khan, whose horrific brutalization by the CIA was made public for the first time this month. We pioneered the use of the Alien Tort Statute to allow foreign victims of international human rights violations to sue the perpetrators in U.S. courts. We won the first and so-far only monetary settlement for post-9/11 torture victims, for 72 Iraqis in a case against the Abu Ghraib contractor L-3 Services; and have been in court against CACI, another private military contractor, to hold it accountable for its role in the torture at Abu Ghraib. Using the Torture Victim Protection Act as well as the Constitution, we sought to hold U.S. officials accountable for the “extraordinary rendition” and torture of Maher Arar. When it comes to prosecuting the torturers in our own government – notably Bush administration officials – we have tirelessly pursued multiple cases in foreign courts under the legal principle of universal jurisdiction.
Torture takes many forms, and CCR is bringing awareness to the fact that long-term solitary confinement is a form of torture through our Ashker v. Brown case, challenging the practice as a violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.” Rape is also recognized as a form of torture, and CCR’s effort to hold high-ranking Vatican officials responsible for widespread and systemic rape and sexual violence by clergy has brought the issue to the U.N. Committee Against Torture, among other things.
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