September 22, Richmond, VA – Last night, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) appealed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against private military contractor CACI Premier Technology, Inc. (CACI) for the company’s role in the torture and other abuse of four Iraqi men at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison’s so-called “hard site.” A federal judge dismissed the case in June, ruling that even though U.S. military investigators concluded that several CACI interrogators conspired with U.S. soldiers (who were later court martialed) to “soften” detainees for interrogations and which contributed to “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses,” CACI’s responsibility for its role in the torture is a “political question” unreviewable by the courts.
“Torture is not a political question, it is a legal question,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy. “What happened to our clients in this case was unambiguously unlawful under domestic, military and international human rights law. The courts have an obligation to hear claims brought by victims of torture and not look the other way simply because the claims may be complicated. The obligation is even stronger when the abuses are carried out by a corporation – which made millions of dollars for its work in Abu Ghraib.”
Last year, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court’s earlier dismissal of the case, reinstating CCR’s claims and allowing the torture survivors to sue CACI under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS).
"Although the case is taking a very long time, I am confident that the American judicial system will rule in my favor at the end,” said Plaintiff Salah Al-Ejaili. “Then I will have received justice.”
Al Shimari v. CACI International Inc. was filed in 2008 on behalf of four Iraqi men who were tortured at the so-called “hard site” at Abu Ghraib. The men were subjected to electric shocks, sexual violence, forced nudity, broken bones, and deprivation of oxygen, food, and water. CACI’s co-conspirators, Ivan Frederick III and Charles Graner, were court martialed and imprisoned for their role in the abuse of detainees, and implicated CACI interrogators in the abuse of detainees.
The ATS allows federal courts to hear suits for abuses committed abroad “in violation of the law of nations.” Pioneered by the Center for Constitutional Rights in 1980 as an avenue for accountability for human rights abuses, the ATS has been used to hold both individuals and corporations accountable for serious human rights violations.
Jeena Shah of the International Human Rights Clinic at Rutgers Law School-Newark, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LP and Shereef Akeel & Valentine, P.C. in Troy, Michigan are co-counsel on the case.
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.