The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Six Friend of the Court Briefs Ask Supreme Court to Hear Case of Rendition Survivor Maher Arar

Former Federal Judges, UN Torture Experts, NYC Bar Association, and Canadian and International Human Rights Groups Support CCR Case


Friday, six (6) amicus curiae briefs were filed with the Supreme Court in support of the petition for certiorari filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Canadian citizen Maher Arar, asking the Supreme Court to hear his case against U.S. officials for their role in sending him to Syria to be tortured.

Lower courts concluded that Mr. Arar's suit raised too many sensitive
foreign policy and secrecy issues to allow them to hear his case. If
the lower court rulings are allowed to stand, say rights groups, the
federal officials involved will remain free of any legal accountability
for what they did to an innocent man.

Said CCR Senior Attorney Maria LaHood, "The
various amicus briefs filed with the Supreme Court in support of Maher
Arar are a testament to the critical and profound impact the resolution
of his case will have on human rights and the rule of law in New York
City, in the United States, in Canada, in Europe, and globally. We
hope the Supreme Court hears that call."

Seven retired federal judges submitted an amicus brief asserting that
the Court must hear Mr. Arar's case in order to reaffirm the federal
courts' role as a check on unconstitutional Executive conduct. An
amicus brief submitted by the Association of the Bar of the City of New
York also argues that allowing the Second Circuit's decision to stand
would undermine essential constitutional protections and the courts'
role as the guardian against unconstitutional Executive conduct.

The amicus brief submitted by the retired federal judges asserts,
"There is a long tradition, stretching from our Republic's earliest
days to the Supreme Court's recent terms, of federal courts reviewing
the constitutionality or legality of executive and legislative conduct
in emergencies and in the domain of national security and foreign
affairs. The Second Circuit's decision sharply breaks from this

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, and Theo van
Boven, the former Special Rapporteur on Torture during the time Maher
was tortured, submitted a brief on the absolute international law
prohibition against torture - and sending someone to torture - under
any and all circumstances. The REDRESS Trust, an international human
rights organization that helps torture survivors obtain justice and
reparation, submitted a brief on the United States' international
obligations not to transfer individuals to torture, and to provide an
effective remedy for such violations, as here.

Amnesty International and Canadian human rights organizations and
scholars submitted a brief detailing how the Canadian government has
taken responsibility for its role in Maher Arar's ordeal by conducting
a public inquiry, investigating the facts, determining the
responsibility of Canadian officials, apologizing, and paying
compensation, yet Mr. Arar has received no remedy for the violation of
his rights by U.S. officials. The brief submitted by the Bar Human
Rights Committee of England and Wales and the European Center for
Constitutional and Human Rights highlights the various European
investigations that have arisen from extraordinary renditions by the
United States, and how the U.S. practice has undermined human rights

CCR attorneys say the Supreme Court should hear the case because the
Court of Appeals' decision not only contradicts other Supreme Court
decisions but also raises issues of national importance by blocking the
ability of Mr. Arar to obtain a remedy for a constitutional violation
where federal defendants obstructed his access to the specific remedy
provided by Congress.

For more on Mr. Arar's case, including a timeline, links to videos, court papers and other documents, go to Additional information may be found by entering the search term "Arar" at the Center for Constitutional Rights website,
Georgetown law professor and CCR cooperating attorney David Cole,
University of Pittsburgh Law School professor and CCR cooperating
attorney Jules Lobel, and CCR Staff Attorney Katherine Gallagher are
co-counsel in Mr. Arar's case.

The Center for Constitutional Rights represents other victims of the
Bush administration's programs, from Iraqis tortured and abused at Abu
Ghraib prison to Muslim and Arab men rounded up and abused in
immigration sweeps in the U.S. in the aftermath of 9/11, to Guantanamo

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. CCR is committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

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