Rights Groups Applaud Move Towards Accountability and Urge Obama Administration to Cooperate with Investigation
February 19, 2016, New York – In response to news reports that a French judge has summoned retired U.S. General Geoffrey Miller, the former Guantánamo prison chief, to appear in court on March 1 over allegations of torture, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, who have submitted expert reports and other submissions in the proceedings, issued the following statement.
“We commend the French justice system for pursuing its investigation into torture at Guantánamo despite the unwillingness of both Bush and Obama administrations to cooperate with the investigation. As we have documented in detail for the court, Miller played a key role in the implementation of the U.S. torture program at Guantánamo prison. It is time he answers for it. We urge the U.S. to make Miller available for questioning and let this judicial process run its course. The French nationals who endured torture at Guantánamo under Miller’s command, and have persisted with this case, deserve their day in court. As long as the U.S. remains unwilling to fully investigate its torture program and prosecute its architects and senior implementers, justice will be pursued in courts and countries, like France, where it can be found.”
The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) submitted documents explaining Geoffrey Miller’s position, while commander of Guantánamo, in the overall command structure within the U.S government. The organizations also submitted information on the torture program and the implementation of interrogation techniques at Guantánamo that violate international law, based on the findings of the 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee report on detainee torture and abuse. CCR and ECCHR’s submissions were relied upon when a French appeals court, the Chambre de l’instruction de la Cour d’appel de Paris, reversed a decision by the investigating magistrate to deny the victims request to subpoena Miller.
Under the existing U.S.-France Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), a request for Miller to appear would have been transmitted through the US Embassy in Paris. There is no public record of whether the United States has conveyed the request to Miller or if it has provided the French court with any response as to whether Miller will appear.
The investigation began in France after two former Guantánamo detainees, French citizens Nizar Sassi and Mourad Benchellali, lodged a criminal complaint in November 2002. They were later joined by a third, Khaled Ben Mustapha. In January 2012, following a motion filed by the men’s lawyer, William Bourdon, investigating judge Clement issued the formal request, known as a letter-rogatory, to the U.S. government, which has not been answered.
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) is an independent, non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to protecting civil and human rights. ECCHR focusses on enforcing human rights by legal means. Since its foundation in 2007, ECCHR acted before national prosecution services and courts as well as before the International Criminal Court to bring perpetrators of international crimes to justice. From the very beginning, ECCHR pursued cases against U.S. officials for their responsibility within the U.S. torture and rendition programs. Visit www.ecchr.eu; follow @ECCHRBerlin.