USA - Torture - Gina Haspel

Germany: CIA Director Gina Haspel should face arrest on travelling to Europe

USA - Torture - Gina Haspel

Germany: CIA Director Gina Haspel should face arrest on travelling to Europe

ECCHR's legal intervention filed with the German Federal Public Prosecutor (Generalbundesanwalt – GBA) is aimed at securing an arrest warrant for CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel. Haspel was appointed to the post by President Donald Trump in February 2017. The information submitted to the GBA by ECCHR on 6 June 2017 documents Haspel's role in the torture of detainees in 2002 at a secret CIA prison in Thailand. In the dossier, ECCHR argues that Haspel oversaw the torture of detainees at the black site in 2002 and failed to do anything to stop it.


On 2 Febuary 2017, US President Donald Trump appointed Gina Haspel as Deputy Director of the CIA. Gina Haspel has held various positions since joining the CIA in 1985. From 2002 to 2005 she was involved – in a manner relevant in terms of criminal liability – in the CIA's rendition and torture program. Prior to 2017, Gina Haspel's work at the CIA was undercover, and it was only on her appointment as Deputy Director that her name, previous posts and areas of work became known.


This submission is a follow-up to a criminal complaint on the US torture program filed by ECCHR with the German prosecutors on 17 December 2014. ECCHR is calling for an investigation into the US torture program as a whole and all the members of the government, CIA and military who bear responsibility for the program. ECCHR accuses Tenet, Rumsfeld and the other named suspects of the war crime of torture under Article 8 Paragraph 1(3) of the German Code of Crimes under International Law. That acts of torture occurred as part of the US program was confirmed in the US Senate Intelligence Committee Report.


Q&A: Legal background of the criminal complaint against Gina Haspel filed in Germany.

ECCHR filed a dossier detailing Gina Haspel's suspected involvement in the crime of torture based on open source information. The dossier was submitted to the German Federal Public Prosecutor (Generalbundesanwalt) on 6 June 2017.

The dossier was a follow-up submission to ECCHR's previous criminal complaint (filed in December 2014, expanded on in further submissions in July 2015 and June 2016) against the "architects of torture" during the Bush administration: former CIA director George Tenet, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and several other senior US officials. The complaint concerns crimes committed as part of the US post-9/11 program of torture of detainees at various locations including Guantánamo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Thailand.

Perpetrators of torture and other crimes against international law should not enjoy impunity. ECCHR has worked for over a decade to ensure that the senior US officials responsible for establishing, running and providing legal cover for the illegal program of detainee torture face the legal consequences of their actions. This is key to upholding the long established prohibition on torture and preventing the use of torture by the US – or any other state – in the future. Given the scant prospects of any real accountability for these crimes in the US, ECCHR, supported by the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, filed a criminal complaint in Germany seeking to trigger the opening of criminal investigation. This legal action also aims to ensure that German prosecutors gather evidence that can be used in criminal proceedings in other jurisdictions or by the International Criminal Court in the context of its potential investigation into crimes committed by US forces in connection with the conflict in Afghanistan.

President Trump's February 2017 decision to appoint Gina Haspel to serve as CIA Deputy Director led to new information coming to light about her involvement in the CIA's torture program. This related to her role in overseeing a secret prison in Thailand, including during a period in which at least one detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was subjected to torture, and her subsequent role in destroying video evidence of CIA torture.

ECCHR filed the dossier on Gina Haspel to ensure that she is included in the German Federal Public Prosecutor's consideration of the criminal responsibility borne by several individuals for the US torture program.

ECCHR's criminal complaint to the German Federal Public Prosecutor concerning the US torture program is based in part on the German Code of Crimes against International Law (Völkerstrafgesetzbuch), which criminalizes war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Germany's Code of Crimes against International Law is based on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows for prosecutions for certain serious crimes even in countries with no direct link to the perpetrator, victim or the place where the crimes were committed. This aims to prevent impunity in situations in which the state where the crimes were committed, or the state of which the perpetrators/victims are nationals, is unable or unwilling to conduct prosecutions.  

The principle of universal jurisdiction for the crime of torture is also set out in the 1984 Convention against Torture which has been ratified by 163 states including Germany and which is implemented in German law. Articles 6 and 7 of the Convention oblige states parties to prosecute torture and to take steps towards prosecution – including taking the individual into custody – if an alleged perpetrator is present on their territory.

The criminal complaint submitted by ECCHR to German prosecutors on the US torture program in 2014 and the follow-up submissions, including the dossier on Gina Haspel, are under consideration by German prosecutors as part of a preliminary examination. This procedure is used to gather information evidence for potential future investigations and prosecutions in Germany or in other jurisdictions. Considering this information allows prosecutors to respond swiftly if suspects travel outside the US.

ECCHR is also involved in legal proceedings in France, Belgium and Spain concerning criminal responsibility for torture of detainees at Guantánamo. 

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A dossier is a collection of documents that can be submitted to a court or other authority.
The Office of the German Federal Public Prosecutor is Germany's highest prosecutory authority.
War crimes are serious breaches of international humanitarian law committed in armed conflict.
The UN Convention against Torture was adopted to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Universal jurisdiction allows states to prosecute crimes against international law that were committed elsewhere.