This is CCR's weekly "Frontlines of Justice" news round-up, keeping you in the loop about what we've been up to and what's coming soon. Check it out every Monday, your one-stop-shop for CCR opinions, news coverage, reports from court appearances, upcoming events, and more!
Victory for transparency in immigration quotas!
Last week, CCR and Detention Watch Network (DWN) prevailed in our FOIA lawsuit against the two largest private prison corporations in the U.S. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals handed CoreCivic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America) and the GEO Group their third defeat in the courts, telling them that they have no say over keeping the details of their government contracts secret.
The Second Circuit’s decision lets stand the July 2016 ruling by the district court, which rejected arguments by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that the terms of government contracts constitute corporate trade secrets that may be withheld from the public.
CCR senior staff attorney Ghita Schwarz hailed the court’s decision and noted, “This is an important decision at a time of increasing privatization and increasingly abusive immigration practices: private detention does not mean decreased transparency.” DWN’s policy director Mary Small said, “It’s astounding that private prison contractors thought they had the right to dictate the scope of government secrecy.”
Read the orders from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals here and here. For more information on the symbiotic financial relationship between ICE and private corporations that detain immigrants — and the lengths to which the government will go to conceal that relationship — read the report CCR and DWN released last year, Banking on Detention 2016 Update.
Call to investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity in Afghanistan
Last week, CCR senior staff attorney Katherine Gallagher returned from the Hague, having traveled there as part of a delegation of representatives of Afghan civil society and human rights defenders to request that the International Criminal Court (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor fully investigate ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan. CCR joined the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), OPEN ASIA/Armanshahr, and the Afghanistan Transitional Justice Coordination Group in this visit.
The ICC has had jurisdiction to investigate crimes that occurred on the territory of Afghanistan since May 2003, and began its preliminary investigation ten years ago. In her November 2016 report, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda declared that her office would soon make a decision on whether her office would initiate a full investigation, including into crimes committed as part of the U.S. torture program. It is crucial for the ICC to begin this as soon as possible; the victims of these past crimes deserve some concrete steps be taken towards justice -- and those in position to commit further crimes in Afghanistan, including members of the Trump administration which has just taken a dangerous step towards further military escalation with the launching of the MOAB, need to know that they will be held accountable for serious international law violations.
Katherine stated, “No high-level U.S. official from the military, the CIA, or private contractors has been prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed within the U.S. torture program in Afghanistan or at other locations, including in Eastern Europe, where detainees were sent to be tortured. An investigation by the ICC into these crimes and others by U.S. actors, including civilian deaths, would send a much-needed message to the current US administration and others around the world that no one is above the law.”