U.S court dismisses Iraqi torture case
The Washington Post has reported that CACI International had secured a victory against a lawsuit alleging its employees directed mistreatment of detainees at Ab Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The judge in the case decided that because the incidents happened overseas, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. But the U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee did not rule on CACI's role in the alleged abuse.
The case centred on CACI’s employees, who conducted interrogation and other tasks at the Iraqi prison, being accused of being part of a group of conspirators who allegedly abused and tortured four detainees between 2003 and 2004.
Judge Lee ruled that CACI was “immune from suit for claims arising from acts related to its contract or performed in connection with military combat operations.”
According to Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School the ruling was “troubling,” he accused the court of saying “We’re never going to look into it. We don’t want to know what happened in Abu Ghraib.”
In a statement on 26th June 2013, the company said it was “gratified by the court’s decision and hope[s] this is the end of these baseless lawsuits.”
CACI contended that the case should not be argued in Virginia, because the allegations concerned actions that occurred in Iraq and as a U.S. government contractor, CACI is immune under Iraqi law.
The company also cited an April Supreme Court case that found that the Alien Tort Statute — under which most of the claims against CACI were brought — does not apply to actions outside the United States.
Baher Azmy, the attorney for the plaintiffs, had called CACI’s interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling “implausibly simplistic.” The detention centre run by the U.S. government constituted U.S. territory, he argued. But Judge Lee disagreed. The “alleged conduct giving rise to their claims occurred exclusively on foreign soil,” he said in his decision.
According to Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor, the case revealed a "blind spot" in U.S law. “We talk a good game about our government being subject to the rule of law, but we have created this expanding exception where the government and its contractors can shield the worst possible abuses,” Turley said. “The government and its contractors are virtually without a check or balance in our system.”
Azmy said the plaintiffs will appeal the dismissal. “It’s a disappointing decision,” he said. “I think [it] seriously misreads the Supreme Court’s... decision and in effect creates lawless spaces that give human rights abusers impunity even in U.S. courts and even if they reside here.”
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Read our article on which companies profited from the invasion of Iraq
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