For Immediate Release
CCR Applauds Spanish Efforts to Hold US Torture Conspirators Accountable
Rights Group Vows to Continue Similar Efforts in Other Jurisdictions, Says Prosecutions Are Necessary to Deter Torture in Future
WASHINGTON - According to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), yesterday's
announcement that a Spanish judge has initiated a criminal investigation into
the actions of John Yoo and other Bush administration lawyers is an important
step forward in holding these officials and others accountable for their
crimes. The case may well lead to investigations of top officials, including
Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales. Spain,
like many other countries in Europe, has a special interest in these cases as
five of its citizens and residents were tortured or abused at Guantanamo. CCR expressed hope that
other countries in Europe whose citizens and residents were subject to torture
and cruel treatment at Guantanamo
and elsewhere will likewise initiate such investigations.
CCR President Michael Ratner
and Executive Director Vincent Warren
are available for comment.
Ratner, author of the book, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld, said,
"The importance of this investigation can not be understated. Contrary to
statements by some, the Spanish investigations are not ‘symbolic.'
Just ask Augusto Pinochet, who was stranded under house arrest in England and who ultimately faced criminal
charges in Chile
because of the pressure of the Spanish courts. If and when arrest warrants are
issued, 24 countries in Europe are obligated
to enforce them. The world is getting smaller for the torture
CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren
said, "The Spanish investigation should send a message to the Obama
administration that it can no longer evade the question of accountability for
officials who played a role in shaping and implementing a policy of torture.
President Obama must recognize that the prosecution of serious crimes is
neither ‘looking backward' nor ‘a criminalizing of policy
differences.' Accounting for past crimes is looking forward to a future
Since the first days of the public revelations regarding the Bush
administration's torture program, the Center for Constitutional Rights
has made efforts to hold high level officials and their lawyers accountable for
their crimes. CCR, along with the European Center for Constitutional and
Human Rights (ECCHR) and the International Federation of Human Rights
(FIDH), has tried three times, twice in Germany and once in France,
to bring criminal cases in Europe against former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld,
former CIA director George Tenet as well as the lawyers who were part of the
conspiracy that authorized the torture program in Guantanamo, Iraq, secret CIA
sites, and elsewhere. The German case is still pending.
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The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.