GJC Files Victim Statement Calling on International Criminal Court to Hold Perpetrators of CIA Torture Program Accountable

On the eve of celebrations of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC’s) 20th anniversary, the Global Justice Clinic (GJC) filed a statement with the Court on behalf of Mr. Mohammed al-Asad calling for accountability for victims of CIA torture and secret detention. The submission, filed at the request of Mr. al-Asad’s widow, Ms. Zahra Mohamed, follows the ICC Prosecutor’s request for victims’ views on whether a formal investigation should be conducted into crimes committed in Afghanistan since 1 May 2003, as well as other crimes that have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan, including those committed by members of the U.S. armed forces and the CIA. Although the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute, the ICC retains jurisdiction over individuals who commit crimes on the territories of State Parties, regardless of their nationality. In the upcoming weeks, the judges of the ICC will be reviewing victims’ statements and deciding whether to approve a formal investigation.

The submission, based on extensive GJC interviews with Mr. al-Asad and his published declaration before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, describes Mr. al-Asad’s experience as a victim and survivor of the CIA’s rendition, secret detention, and interrogation program. It details Mr. al-Asad’s account of his incommunicado detention in several facilities, including sites in Djibouti and Afghanistan, between December 2003 and May 2005. During his time in these facilities, Mr. al-Asad was subjected to acts constituting crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC, including but not limited to torture, enforced disappearance, unlawful deportation and confinement, violence to life and person, and outrages upon personal dignity.

The submission highlights the impunity that U.S. officials have enjoyed for the abuses committed as part of the rendition, secret detention, and torture program. It emphasizes the importance of prosecuting individuals who commit the most serious crimes, to end impunity and to ensure such acts are never again adopted as official policy. To that end, the submission strongly supports the ICC’s investigation examining the role, conduct, and responsibility of individuals who not only committed, but also materially aided and abetted, or otherwise facilitated the commission of, war crimes and/or crimes against humanity as part of a joint criminal enterprise. It is vital for the ICC to consider the role of U.S. private contractors and partner states, such as Djibouti, in the organization and execution of this clandestine program. Simply put, the rendition, secret detention, and torture program could not have existed without them. The ICC investigation and prosecution is also critical to ensure that victims and survivors of such crimes are provided an opportunity to have their claims heard, investigated and adjudicated by an impartial tribunal.

The submission to the ICC is part of a continued effort by the Global Justice Clinic to seek justice for Mr. al-Asad and his family, as well as accountability for crimes committed as part of the CIA rendition, secret detention, and torture program.


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