The Daily Outrage

The CCR blog

Abu Ghraib Torture Trial: We Rest Our Case



Abu Ghraib Torture Trial: we rest our case 

Our historic trial in Al Shimari v. CACI is nearly at an end –  closing arguments are happening today, and the judge will give the jury their instructions. Last Monday, our legal director, Baher Azmy, gave powerful opening arguments in our case against private contractor CACI Premier Technology, Inc., for its role in the horrific torture and cruel treatment at the notorious Abu Ghriab prison in Iraq 20 years ago. 

All three of our clients, Iraqis who experienced much of the same treatment depicted in the leaked photos that shocked the conscience of the world, were finally able to tell their stories in a U.S. courtroom in Alexandria Virginia – Salah Al Ejaili, a journalist, testified in person, while Asa’ad Al Zubae, a fruit vendor, and Suhail Al Shimari, a middle school principal, testified via livestream from Iraq. We are in awe of their strength in preserving through 16 years of litigation to bring their truth to a U.S. court and, finally, to a jury. 

With our amazing co-counsel, we put forward multiple other witnesses, including Major Generals Taguba and Fay, and cross-examined CACI’s witnesses. We rested our case Wednesday afternoon, after which Judge Leonie Brinkema denied CACI’s request for a directed verdict of not guilty as a matter of law, and CACI rested its defense case Friday afternoon. 

Below are links to some of the early coverage. There’s no way to know how long it will take the jury to reach a verdict – it could be anywhere from this afternoon to the end of the week or beyond – but we will let you know. Either way, this long-in-coming trial has contributed to building the historical record on Abu Ghraib, and we could not be more proud of our clients and of the whole team that has been fighting for justice in the case for more than 16 years.

 Staff Attorney Samah Sisay is pictured here, second from the right in the front row, with our partners in Albany. There is a large group of people up the steps of the capitol building in Albany. They are wearing matching t-shirts. Many people are smiling.

Advocating in Albany for the Dignity Not Detention Act 

Last week, Staff Attorney Samah Sisay traveled to Albany, the New York State capital, to advocate for the passage of the Dignity Not Detention Act. This bill would end ICE contracts with local jails in NY State. Samah is pictured here, second from the right in the front row, with our partners in Albany. 

This day was organized by the Abolish ICE NY-NJ Coalition, of which we are a member. People traveled to Albany from all over the state, including individuals who were formerly detained by ICE and their family members. They were joined by New York State Senator Julia Salazar, who is a sponsor of the bill. 

We will continue working with our partners to demand New York State end immigrant detention, so that immigrant families and communities can live in freedom and dignity! To learn more about the Dignity Not Detention Act, check out the campaign website.

 Pictured here in the front center, our board member Justin Hansford moderated a thematic discussion on Reparations, Sustainable Development and Economic Justice. Photo from the United Nation Permanent Forum on People of African Descent in Geneva. There are 5 people visible in the picture, three are sitting, with two additional people behind them. The three individuals sitting have name placards in front of them. Some of the individuals have an ear piece on their ears for simultaneous interpretation between languages.

Participating in the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent 

Last week, our Executive Director Vince Warren was in Geneva for the United Nation Permanent Forum on People of African Descent along with others in our extended Center for Constitutional Rights family. 

Pictured here in the front center, our board member Justin Hansford moderated a thematic discussion on Reparations, Sustainable Development and Economic Justice

Our client, Joy Banner, a cofounder of The Descendants Project, offered a brilliant intervention to the discussion, calling on the U.S. government to develop an action plan that “...addresses the harm done by industrial development, specifically in Louisiana's Cancer Alley, with a moratorium on further development..." and "adopt economic development models that center community development, sustainability, regeneration, restoration, Black land ownership and quality of life for the Black-descended community in Louisiana's Cancer Alley."

We will continue to engage in international UN mechanisms with our partners, as we collectively fight for the liberation of all people of African descent. 


Two clients on TIME 100 Most Influential list: Frank Mugisha and Sharon Lavigne 

TIME Magazine released its list of the 100 Most Influential People for 2024, and we are happy to see Frank Mugisha and Sharon Lavigne included on this list.

We have worked with Frank since 2010 and represented his organization Sexual Minorities Uganda in their lawsuit against U.S.-based anti-gay extremist Scott Lively for his role in escalating the persecution they faced in Uganda. The case resulted in a groundbreaking ruling that persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a crime against humanity according to international law.

We have worked with Sharon of RISE St. James since about 2019, when she was fighting the Formosa Plastics facility in St. James Parish in Louisiana in the heart of Cancer Alley. Through public records requests, we learned about burial grounds of formerly enslaved people from plantations that once operated on the property where Formosa was seeking to build. We represent Sharon and RISE in White Hat v. Landry, a challenge to the anti-protest amendments to Louisiana's critical infrastructure law. 

Congratulations to Sharon and Frank for this well deserved recognition!


FRIDAY: Webinar, “Strong UN advocacy means frontline-led advocacy”  

Join us on Friday to learn more about the powerful global movement to build a UN treaty to hold corporations accountable, and learn how to become active in the struggle for a better future for marginalized communities everywhere. 

Date: Friday, April 26, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. ET
Location: Online via Zoom

We are proud to be a member of the U.S. Treaty Alliance, which is hosting this online event with leading Indigenous and Black frontline community leaders. They will discuss how advocates working for human rights and environmental justice within various UN initiatives can build collective strength to demand strong global rules to combat corporate abuses. 

Learn more about this event on our website. Register via Zoom.

 Flyer for the W. Haywood Burns Chair event that says, Keynote Lecture with Vince Warren on April 30, from 6:00pm to 7:30pm EST. There is a photo of Vince next to the text.

April 30: Vince Warren lecture, “Lessons in movement lawyering from local to global” 

On April 30, our Executive Director Vince Warren will deliver his final lecture in his role as CUNY Law 2023-24 W. Haywood Burns Chair. 

Date: Tuesday, April 30, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Location: 2 Court Square, CUNY School of Law, Long Island City, NY 11101

Vince will explore the local and global impact of two cases from our advocacy around environmental justice and mass incarceration and discuss models of leveraging spheres of influence despite obstacles. 

Vince will share lessons from decarceration efforts currently being led by formerly incarcerated advocates in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, New York, and California, and presented to the United Nations in relation to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. He will also detail our experience amplifying grassroots environmental activism from the area of Louisiana known as “Cancer Alley” to engage with the United Nations.

RSVP on the CUNY Law School website. This event is in person only.


Last modified 

April 23, 2024