Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Criminal complaint against Bush era architects of torture

The Center for Constitutional Rights released the following important press release today. It discusses the first of what should be many such calls for prosecution of US officials following upon the release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's Executive Summary of their full investigation into CIA torture.

CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy has stated, “Both US law and international law require torturers and those responsible for torture to be prosecuted. If we won’t do it, other countries will—the architects of the torture program may want to plan their travel carefully going forward.”
The Federal Prosecutor must investigate former CIA boss Tenet, former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and others - and should not wait until they are on German soil

Berlin, 17 December 2014 – The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin has today lodged criminal complaints against former CIA head George Tenet, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other members of the administration of former US President George W. Bush. The ECCHR is accusing Tenet, Rumsfeld and a series of other persons of the war crime of torture under paragraph 8 section 1(3) of the German Code of Crimes against International Law (Völkerstrafgesetzbuch). The constituent elements of the crime of torture were most recently established in the case by the US Senate in its report on CIA interrogation methods. “The architects of the torture system - politicians, officials, secret service agents, lawyers and senior army officials – should be brought before the courts,” says ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck, who is appearing today in connection with the issue in front of the German Parliamentary Committee on legal affairs. “By investigating members of the Bush administration, Germany can help to ensure that those responsible for abduction, abuse and illegal detention do not go unpunished.”

The US Senate report devotes one section explicitly to the case of German citizen Khaled El Masri, who was abducted by CIA agents in 2004 due to a case of mistaken identity and was tortured in a secret detention center in Afghanistan. The criminal complaint details the US Senate report’s finding that once the unlawful error was discovered, the former CIA director refused to take further steps against those responsible.

ECCHR calls on Federal Prosecutor Harald Range to open investigations into the actions of Tenet, Rumsfeld and other perpetrators and to set up a monitoring process as soon as possible. This would allow the German authorities to act immediately in the event that one of the suspects enters European soil and not have to wait until such point before beginning the complex investigations and legal deliberations.

Together with the US Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Kaleck previously submitted criminal complaints against Tenet and Rumsfeld in Germany in 2004 and 2006 and against Bush in Switzerland in 2011. ECCHR is also involved in legal proceedings in Spain and France concerning Guantánamo. The current criminal complaint by ECCHR is supported by former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak, the CCR in New York along with its President Emeritus Michael Ratner and its Vice President Peter Weiss, winner of the Martin Ennals Awards 2014 Alejandra Ancheita, Professor for International and Public Law at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels Annemie Schaus, Professor for Criminal Law at the University of Hamburg Florian Jeßberger and Berlin attorney Dieter Hummel.
Read the English summary of the complaint on CCR's website.
You can also read more about their universal jurisdiction work here.

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