Taking Legal Action against the US Torture Program

Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, secret detention centers in Eastern Europe; waterboarding, sleep deprivation, electric shocks – these are all symbols of a barbaric system of torture. As part of the so-called “war on terror”, the CIA and US military engaged in a systematic program of abduction, illegal detention and torture that was authorized at the highest levels.

Two years after the publication of the US Senate’s report on CIA interrogation techniques several organizations from the US and Europe sent a letter to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch: The organizations, including ECCHR, asked Lynch to open a comprehensive investigation into the post-9/11 detention and interrogation program in order to bring to justice those suspected of crimes under international law as well as US federal law.

Torture: Letter to US General Attorney Loretta Lynch (December 2016)

US Torture_Letter Attorney General Lynch_20161209.pdf (116.4 KiB)


For over ten years Wolfgang Kaleck and ECCHR have turned to the law to oppose this system of violence and torture. Together with partner organizations and cooperating lawyers from the US and Europe, Kaleck and ECCHR persistently pursue legal action against this injustice, including through cases in Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland.

These legal efforts are predominantly focused on the architects of the torture system: politicians, officials, intelligence agents, lawyers and senior military figures. The aim is to bring to justice those ultimately responsible for torture and rendition.
In the following cases ECCHR has filed legal actions, initiated criminal complaints, and/or supported investigations by submitting legal briefs and dossiers and providing witness assistance.

The case of Maher Arar
The case of Khaled El Masri
Switzerland: Criminal complaint against former US President George W. Bush (2011)
Germany and France: Criminal complaints against former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (2004-2007)
Germany: Criminal complaint against the architects of torture: former CIA head George Tenet, former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other members of the administration of former President George W. Bush (2014)
France: Legal assistance in torture investigations concerning former Guantánamo commander Geoffrey Miller
Spain: Legal representation of former Guantánamo detainee Murat Kurnaz in Guantánamo torture investigations

ECCHR's work against US Torture


  • Bush
  • CIA
  • France
  • Germany
  • Guantánamo
  • Khaled El Masri
  • Maher Arar
  • Murad Benchellali
  • Murat Kurnaz
  • Rumsfeld
  • Spain
  • Tenet
  • Torture
  • Universal Jurisdiction
  • USA
  • War on Terror