Torture, Rendition, and Disappearances

Since the onset of the so-called “War on Terror,” the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Global Justice Clinic have engaged in cutting-edge legal analysis on the practices of extraordinary rendition, disappearances, proxy detention, and detainee abuse as violations of domestic, regional, and international law.

Justice, Accountability, and Reparations

CHRGJ and the Clinic have worked closely with human rights organizations, litigators, regional groups, parliamentary bodies, and other actors to end abuses by the United States and collaborating countries, including by exploring avenues for justice for two victims of the CIA extraordinary rendition program and former “black site” detainees represented by the Clinic, Mohammed al-Asad and Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah.

Those efforts have involved:

Extraordinary Rendition

The Clinic and the Center have been pioneers in exposing the illegality of extraordinary rendition, the transfer of individuals to a country where they face a real risk of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. The Clinic has played a key role in defining extraordinary rendition, publishing the first, widely cited analysis of the practice under human rights and humanitarian law in 2004.  The Clinic also engaged in collaborative efforts to identify national security-related “disappeared” persons and to pursue remedies for persons held in “black sites.”


The Clinic’s work has helped to expose the role of other states in this global network of extraordinary rendition, demonstrating how those states’ facilitation of extraordinary renditions and disappearances violates international law. To that end, the Clinic has actively supported investigations into foreign state assistance for the US torture program.


Proxy Detention

With the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the Clinic’s work has expanded to include inquiry into proxy detention, the imprisonment of individuals by allied governments or forces at the behest of, or with the collaboration of the United States for the purpose of interrogation or incapacitation. In many cases, proxy detention takes place in secret and amounts to an enforced disappearance, and it is frequently accompanied by torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

Our Litigation
Situation in Afghanistan (International Criminal Court)

Below are some of the filings in the ongoing proceedings before the International Criminal Court. The full case docket is found on the ICC’s website, here.

Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan (U.S. Federal Court)

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California

Amnesty et al. v. CIA et al. (FOIA Litigation, U.S. Federal Court)

The Clinic has used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to challenge the US government’s secrecy around its national security and counter-terrorism programs. In 2007, the Clinic partnered with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Amnesty International USA to sue the U.S. government for failing to produce documents about the secret detention and rendition program, including records related to: secret detention and transfer of detainees held either in so-called “black site” detention facilities or eventually transferred to Guantánamo Bay; policies and procedures utilized for such programs; identities of individuals detained or transferred and the locations of their detention or transfer; activities of private contractors and non-governmental actors; and details on the injuries and treatment of individuals detained or transferred.

US District Court, Southern District of New York

Our Advocacy
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Thematic Hearing on the Human Rights Situation of Persons Affected by the US Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program

Our Reports 


For a more complete archive of documents and news relating to the Global Justice Clinic’s work on rendition, secret prisons, torture, and proxy detention, visit the Center’s searchable Document Center and News Archive.

Margaret L. Satterthwaite
CHRGJ Faculty Director
Margaret Satterthwaite, UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges & Lawyers
Professor of Clinical Law
Gabrielle Apollon
Director, Haitian Immigrant Rights Project
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