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Rape and Sexual Violence as Torture and Genocide Central to CCR’s $4.5 Billion Default Judgment Against Bosnian Serb Leader
July 22, 2008, New York – The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) today welcomed the arrest of notorious war criminal and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić. CCR and co-counsel brought a federal lawsuit in 1993 on behalf of Bosnian Muslim and Croat women and men who were the victims of his genocidal campaign of murder, rape and other forms of torture: in 2000 the court handed down a judgment against Karadžić of $4.5 billion in compensatory and punitive damages that is still outstanding.
Claims of sexual violence were central to the case, with the court citing rape as a form of genocide and torture. CCR looks forward to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) placing the same priority on rape and other forms of torture in its case as it prosecutes all of the crimes committed under the direction of Karadžić during the war.
Said CCR Senior Attorney Jennie Green, “At long last, the victims and survivors of Karadžić’s brutal campaign – from those interned at rape camps to those under siege in Sarajevo to those in the murdered in the killing fields around Srebrenica – can be vindicated.”
“Yesterday ended Radovan Karadžić’s decade of evasion of any accountability for his campaign of torture and genocide,” said CCR Cooperating Attorney Judith Chomsky. “We are looking forward to the survivors receiving not only justice, but also the compensation due to them."
In 1993, CCR and co-counsel sued Karadžić for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – including the campaign of rape and other sexual violence as a form of torture and a tool of genocide used against Bosnian women and men. The complaint was brought under the 1789 Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and served on Karadžić when he was in New York. The ATS, rediscovered by CCR in the landmark 1980 case, Filártiga v. Peña-Irala, allows foreigners to sue in U.S. courts for serious human rights violations committed anywhere in the world and has been instrumental in cases against political and military leaders, like Karadžić, the President of the self-proclaimed Bosnian-Serb “Republika Srpksa,” and corporations like Unocal, Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron.
Karadžić defaulted in the case in 1997. In default proceedings, a jury reached a verdict on September 25, 2000 of $4.5 billion in compensatory and punitive damages.
For more information on Doe v. Karadzic and case documents, go to:
The civil trial was led by Judith Chomsky, Jennie Green of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Theresa Traber of Traber & Voorhees. The trial team also included Anthony DiCaprio, CCR cooperating attorney Jaykumar Menon, Cynthia Soohoo and Jay Lobel, then of Covington & Burling, Karmen Jelincic, and the Lowenstein Clinic at Yale Law School (with Harold Koh, Ron Slye, Jim Silk, Deena Hurwitz). The case was initially brought by CCR attorneys Beth Stephens, Michael Ratner, and Jennie Green, and Rhonda Copelon with the International Women's Human Rights Law Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law.
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.