News Release

Prosecuting Torture


AP reports: “UN Officials Demand Prosecutions for U.S. Torture.”

MICHAEL RATNER, mratner at, @justleft
Available for a limited number of interviews, Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, author of the book The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld, and co-counsel in European cases to hold former president George W. Bush and other officials accountable.

He said today: “Since the inception of the CIA’s program, the Bush administration setting up Guantanamo, its rendition program etc., CCR has made efforts both in the United States and around the world to hold government officials and private contractors accountable. The Senate Intelligence Committee report again, and with great force, tells us why officials must be held accountable. The United States government is required to do so under the convention against torture. The pressure on it must be maximized to do so. As the government seems to have clay feet, including Obama, international prosecutions in Europe and around the world are necessary. CCR has brought such efforts in Spain, where the case is still pending, Switzerland and Germany. Our efforts in this area now have an even greater chance to succeed. I don’t think the courts of the world will stand by while the country that claims it is a human rights protector becomes a major example of a human rights violator. Bush and company shouldn’t plan on visiting the Prado soon unless they want to end up in Spanish jail.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at
Boyle is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law and author of Tackling America’s Toughest Questions. International Business Times reports: “Some human rights advocates have called for former President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and others in Bush’s administration to be tried for the abuses. Bush, Cheney, Rice and others were referred to the ICC [International Criminal Court] in 2010 by a team of prosecutors that later successfully levied war crimes charges against them in the independent and semi-symbolic Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission.

“Francis Boyle, a prosecutor in the Kuala Lumpur case and a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, filed that complaint, but it remains pending. He said it’s a good sign it wasn’t immediately dismissed and that the Senate Intelligence Committee report could be what convinces an ICC prosecutor to open an investigation.

“’This is important because now we have an official branch of the U.S. government adopting and making these findings of fact,’ he said. ‘In addition to ICC prosecution, this now will help us pursue these individuals around the world [through the UN Convention Against Torture and Geneva Conventions]. All states signed to that convention, of which the U.S. is one of them, is required to have domestic legislature in place to prosecute torture. It does seem that if any of these individuals go outside of the U.S., we can go after them.’

“Boyle helped lobby the Swiss government to arrest Bush during a visit in 2011, which he, Human Rights Watch, and other rights groups said prompted Bush to cancel that trip. Bush’s spokesman said the group Bush was scheduled to speak but canceled because of security concerns.

“Donald Rumsfeld, former defense secretary under Bush, nearly cancelled a trip to Germany in 2005 after prosecutors there initially threatened him with war crimes case, but later backed down. In addition, the U.S. has pursued over 100 ‘Bilateral Immunity Agreements’ with foreign states that essentially bar that state from referring U.S. officials — current or former — to the ICC.

“Boyle believes that bringing a case against Bush and his officials is crucial to rebuilding the ICC as a legitimate international court that doesn’t just go after ‘tin pot dictators’ in Africa. He said he will submit follow-up appeals to the ICC after reading through the entirety of the [declassified sections of the] Senate report.”