Justice for Abu Ghraib

Historic Trial in April 2024

"We will have our day in court and the story of Abu Ghraib will be told by me and other men who lived – and – survived it."  —Plaintiff Salah Al-Ejaili

In 2008, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Iraqi torture survivors against U.S.-based government contractor CACI Premier Technology, Inc. On April 15, 2024, after nearly 16 years and more than 20 dismissal attempts by CACI, the case will go to trial!

The final in a series of cases, Al Shimari v. CACI is a rare opportunity for some measure of accountability for the egregious harms suffered by Iraqis after the U.S. invasion in 2003. In fact, this is the first lawsuit where victims of U.S. post-9/11 torture will get their day in court. The trial will be in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. Find out details about the schedule on our trial event page.

The trial – projected to last two weeks – will coincide with the 20th anniversary of when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke and the world learned the horrifying treatment Iraqi detainees were subjected to in the U.S.-run detention center. Photographs and video showed naked, hooded detainees posed in human pyramids, prisoners on leashes, and widespread sexual assault – images so horrifying, they are burned into the conscience of a generation. The revelations drew demands for accountability and redress from around the world. Subsequent military investigations led to the court-martial of a small number of low-level U.S. soldiers as well as documentation of the role played in the torture at Abu Ghraib by private military contractors from two U.S. corporations: Titan Corporation (later known as L-3 Services and Engility Corporation) and CACI Premier Technology, Inc.

The three plaintiffs – Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, Asa’ad Hamza Hanfoosh Zuba’e, and Salah Hasan Nusaif Al-Ejaili – endured the infamous tactics and their aftermath. They will soon tell their stories in a Virginia courtroom in hopes that a jury will hold this corporation accountable and provide a degree of justice. 

More about Al Shimari v. CACI

 

The federal lawsuit alleges that CACI participated in a conspiracy to commit unlawful conduct including torture and war crimes at Abu Ghraib prison, where it was hired by the U.S. to provide interrogation services. The plaintiffs were all held at the “hard site,” an area of the Abu Ghraib prison where the most severe techniques were used in 2003-2004.

The case is filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, where CACI is headquartered, and brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). This U.S. law from 1789 allows non-citizens who have been subjected to well-established violations of international law, such as torture and cruel treatment, to bring a case in U.S. federal court, including against a U.S. corporation, when there is a sufficient connection to the United States. The lawsuit alleges that CACI is liable for conspiracy to commit cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, torture, and war crimes, and for aiding and abetting these acts. The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Since the case was filed in 2008, CACI has tried to dismiss it more than 20 times, invoking a range of legal defenses and immunities that argue at the core that CACI should not be held liable for conduct – even if unlawful – done in Iraq, while working under contract with the United States. This case has gone on appeal to the Fourth Circuit five times, and, after it failed to have the case dismissed, CACI sought a Supreme Court review – which was denied. The Supreme Court has three times narrowed the scope of the Alien Tort Statute since this lawsuit was filed, but the case has survived: in 2018, Judge Leonie Brinkema found that plaintiffs have sufficiently pled – and had evidence to support – their claims and that the case should proceed to a trial for a U.S. jury to decide the merits. Judge Brinkema reaffirmed this decision after the Supreme Court’s Nestle Alien Tort Statute decision. The case is finally set for trial on April 15, 2024.

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Last modified 

April 15, 2024