Appeals court rules in favor of Abu Ghraib detainees

In a unanimous ruling Friday, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rescinded a lower court ruling and restored the right of four former Abu Ghraib detainees to sue Arlington, Va.,-based, CAIC Premier Technology, a government contractor which is alleged to have engaged in torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Considered a step forward for Abu Ghraib detainees seeking redress against their former jailers, the Fourth Circuit’s ruling also found statutes at odds with torture pertain to all branches of government and CAIC employees were not immune to litigation while in the contract employ of the U.S. government.

Friday’s court case revolves around a June 2015 decision from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which ruled “a cloud of ambiguity” circumscribes torture and torture was a “political question.”

Dismissing the lower court’s ruling, appellate Judge Barbara Keenan wrote for the Fourth Circuit Court:

“While executive officers can declare the military reasonableness of conduct amounting to torture, it is beyond the power of even the president to declare such conduct lawful.” 

Filed on behalf of the detainees by the Center for Constitutional Rights in 2008, Friday’s ruling authorizes the detainees’ suit to return to district court for further consideration.

Plaintiffs’ attorney, Katherine Gallagher, celebrated the court’s decision:

“Torture is illegal and can never be a ‘policy choice.’  As the court made clear, neither the military nor the president — let alone a government lawyer — has the power to declare torture legal.”

 

[RT News] [Photo courtesy AP/Los Angeles Times]