At a Glance
Spanish court dismissed the universal jurisdiction case on U.S. torture (Court 5) on all grounds after a series of appeals in November 2016; the universal jurisdiction case on the “Bush Six” for U.S. torture (Court 6) is on appeal to the Spanish Constitutional Court.
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Gonzalo Boye, cooperating lawyer in Madrid
Murat Kurnaz and Muhammed Khan Tumani
One hundred and fifty-five countries, including Spain and the United States, are party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT). Those countries have committed to investigating, prosecuting, and punishing torturers. Spain is additionally obligated under the Geneva Conventions to investigate allegations of torture and war crimes. (See also Accountability for U.S. Torture: France; Accountability for U.S. Torture: Canada; Accountability for U.S. Torture: Germany; and Accountability for U.S. Torture: Switzerland; Katherine Gallagher, Universal Jurisdiction in Practice: Efforts to Hold Donald Rumsfeld and Other High-level United States Officials Accountable for Torture, Journal of International Criminal Justice (2009)).
Spain Preliminary Investigation into U.S. Torture, Court 5
In a decision related to the alleged torture and abuse of four former Guantánamo detainees, Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed, Ikassrien Lahcen, Jamiel Abdul Latif Al Banna, and Omar Deghayes, Judge Baltasar Garzón of Spain opened a preliminary investigation into what he termed “an authorized and systematic plan of torture” in U.S. detention facilities in March 2009. This action was brought under the principle of universal jurisdiction.
The Center for Constitution Rights filed a motion to join the investigation as a party (acusación popular). In this role, CCR seeks to assist the court by providing analysis of various U.S. government reports, memoranda, and investigations, providing factual information regarding the treatment of specific persons detained at Guantánamo. CCR also represents two former Guantánamo detainees in the proceedings.
CCR assists the court by gathering and analyzing information about specific persons believed to have ordered, directed, conspired, aided and abetted, or otherwise participated directly, indirectly, or through command responsibility in the torture and other serious mistreatment of persons detained at U.S.-run detention facilities.
Investigation of the “Bush Six” (former U.S. government lawyers) with Respect to U.S. Torture, Court 6
In a criminal complaint filed in March 2009, several U.S. officials collectively known as the “Bush Six” were alleged to have participated in or aided and abetted the torture and abuse of persons detained at U.S.-run facilities. Defendants include: David Addington (former Counsel to, and Chief of Staff for, former Vice President Cheney); Jay S. Bybee (former Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel [OLC], U.S. Department of Justice); Douglas Feith (former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Department of Defense); Alberto R. Gonzales (former Counsel to President George W. Bush, and former Attorney General of the United States); William J. Haynes (former General Counsel, DOD); and John Yoo, (former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, OLC, DOJ). This action was brought under the principle of universal jurisdiction. The responsibility for investigating this matter was referred to Judge Eloy Velesco.
The Center for Constitutional Rights and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) have worked together to provide the court and Judge Velasco with expert opinions, detailed analysis of various U.S. government reports, memoranda, and investigations that support Spain’s jurisdiction over this investigation due to the utter failure of the United States government to conduct independent, thorough, and impartial investigations into the torture program and the ongoing failure of the Obama administration to prosecute those responsible.