Federal appeals court revives Abu Ghraib torture lawsuit

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Monday that the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] erred in concluding [order, PDF] that it lacked jurisdiction over a case of alleged torture in the Abu Ghraib [JURIST report] prison because the alleged abuses occurred in Iraq. The case was brought in 2009 by four plaintiffs against military contractor CACI International Inc (CACI) [corporate website], accusing the company of crimes against humanity, sexual assault, torture and other violations at Abu Ghraib prison. Applying the fact-based inquiry articulated by the US Supreme Court [official website] in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. [opinion, PDF], the court held that the plaintiffs' claims "touch and concern" the territory of the US with sufficient force to displace the presumption against extraterritorial application of the Alien Tort Statute [text]. The court did not reach the conclusion, however, that the issue was not a political question and thus remanded the case to the district court to undertake factual development of the record to make that determination.

Abu Ghraib prison, and allegations of torture therein, have been a continuing source of controversy. In August CACI filed suit [JURIST report] against former detainees of Abu Ghraib, seeking legal expenses incurred from the lawsuit. In January 2013 a military contractor accused [JURIST report] by former Abu Ghraib detainees of conspiring to torture detainees paid USD $5.28 million to detainees held at the prison and other US detention centers in Iraq. In September 2011 the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit dismissed another case [JURIST report] filed by former Iraqi detainees who also claimed they had been tortured by civilian contractors at the prison.

 

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