US appeals court revives Abu Ghraib torture suit

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled (PDF) Oct. 21 that former detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison may continue their torture lawsuit against civilian military contractors. Four former prisoners allege that they were subjected to various forms of torture at the hands of CACI Premier Technology  contractors. The case had previously been dismissed under the "political question doctrine," but the court held the doctrine does not prevent the judiciary from deciding the case.

We recognize that the legal issues presented in this case are indisputably complex, but we nevertheless cannot abdicate our judicial role in such cases. Nor will we risk weakening prohibitions under United States and international law against torture and war crimes by questioning the justiciability of a case merely because the case involves the need to define such terms. The political question doctrine does not shield from judicial review intentional acts by a government contractor that were unlawful at the time they were committed.

CACI has continued to deny any wrongdoing at the prison.

The Fourth Circuit had previously reinstated an Abu Ghraib torture lawsuit in 2014. The previous year, CACI filed suit against former detainees of Abu Ghraib, seeking legal expenses incurred from the lawsuit. In January 2013 a military contractor accused by former Abu Ghraib detainees of conspiring to torture detainees paid $5.28 million to detainees held at the prison and other US detention centers in Iraq. In September 2011 the Fourth Circuit dismissed another case  filed by former Iraqi detainees who also claimed they had been tortured by civilian contractors at the prison.

From Jurist, Oct. 23. Used with permission.

  1. Court rejects release of Abu Ghraib photographs

    The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled (PDF) Aug. 22 that photographs of detainees taken by US military personnel can be withheld from release. In 2003 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for the release of photographs depicting torture at military detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of 9-11. The government has argued that the photographs may be withheld pursuant to various exemptions to the FOIA, including the 2009 Protected National Security Documents Act (PDF), which permits the government to withhold disclosure of any photographs taken between Sept. 11, 2001, and Jan. 22, 2009, that related to individuals detained by US forces. (Jurist)