USA - Guantánamo - France

France: Court investigates US torture cases

ECCHR and CCR ask to subpoena Former U.S. Department of Defense General Counsel

USA - Guantánamo - France

France: Court investigates US torture cases

ECCHR and CCR ask to subpoena Former U.S. Department of Defense General Counsel

On 12 October 2016, supported by ECCHR and the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) two former Guantánamo detainees Nizar Sassi and Mourad Benchellali urged a French judge to subpoena William "Jim" Haynes, the former General Counsel for the US Department of Defense (DOD) during the George W. Bush administration. Haynes was DOD's General Counsel from 2001-2008 and worked closely with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during his tenure.

Case

Sassi and Benchellali request the Investigative Judge of the High Court of Paris (Cour d’Appel de Paris - Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris) to question Haynes on his role in the torture and other serious mistreatment of the former detainees. The CCR and ECCHR detail Haynes' responsibility for torture and war crimes related to detainee treatment in the 26-page expert report. The report establishes that Haynes was one of the primary architects of the Bush administration's interrogation and detention policies. It sets out the role Haynes played in formulating and approving the list of interrogation techniques that led directly to torture and abuse at Guantánamo; allowing the torture and abuse to continue by silencing objections to the interrogation techniques from the military and other government departments; and further facilitating the torture and abuse in various ways.

Context

Already on 1 March 2016, retired US General Geoffrey Miller, the former Guantánamo prison chief, was a no-show in a French court. Miller had been summoned to answer questions stemming from accusations that he oversaw the torture of three French nationals at Guantánamo prison. By summoning Miller, the Court granted a petition by Sassi and Benchellali. ECCHR partner lawyer William Bourdon together with the families of the two men lodged a criminal complaint in November 2002 based on claims of torture, abuse and arbitrary detention. Since then, French authorities have been investigating the US torture program.