Topic

Double Standards

Decision makers in Western democracies often apply double standards when it comes to human rights. While the Global North will condemn and in some cases prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Global South, there is little appetite to examine the role played by Western politicians, military leaders and corporations in crimes against international law. Serious human rights violations committed by Western actors – such as torture, forced disappearances or civilian deaths by drone – are rarely prosecuted. It seems as though different standards apply to human rights abuses, depending on who commits them.

ECCHR undertakes strategic legal interventions to challenge these double standards, to end the impunity of the powerful and to change power structures. ECCHR chooses cases that make political, economic and legal shortcomings visible, in order to force decision-makers in the Global North to question – and ideally, to dismantle – their double standards. 

Afghanistan

Constitutional complaint regarding air strike at Kunduz in September 2009

Kunduz

In September 2009, two US fighter jets bombed a large group of people and two tanker trucks on a sandbar in the Kunduz River in Afghanistan. More than 100 people were killed or injured. ECCHR supports a criminal investigation in the matters and supports the affected persons' compensation claims.

Bahrain

Alleged crimes against humanity in Bahrain: Serious investigations must be initiated

Arab Spring

ECCHR sent an advisory opinion to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. The statement seeks to draw the commission's attention to the cases of two persons who suffered severe injuries when they were shot at by Bahraini security forces before being forcibly removed from hospital, imprisoned, and abused.

Drones

Important judgment: Germany obliged to scrutinize US drone strikes via Ramstein

Yemen

In March 2019, the Higher Administrative Court in Münster (Germany) ruled that the German government must take action to ensure that the US respects international law in its use of Ramstein Air Base. In its judgment the court found in favor of the claimants from Yemen on several key aspects.

Drones

The case of Bünyamin E. in Pakistan

Pakistan

ECCHR advises in the case of the German victim of a drone strike in Pakistan: Bünyamin E. According to ECCHR's examinations, the case raises a number of serious doubts as to the application and interpretation of the law and shows insufficient investigations.

Drones

Sicily airbase: Freedom of information litigation on Italy's involvement in US drone Program

Italy

The Sigonella airbase in Sicily, Italy, is considered of strategic importance for US drone operations in North Africa. ECCHR has filed requests to access information regarding US drones located at Sigonella according to the Italian Freedom of Information Act.

Italy

Counterterrorism and human rights

Double Standards

For several years now, ECCHR has been working on so-called "terrorism lists." The main focus of this work is to address the grave violation of basic constitutional and human rights that arises by identifying individuals and groups in such a process of listing.

Yemen

European responsibility for war crimes in Yemen

War Crimes

In October 2016, an airstrike – alleged to have been carried out by the Saudi-led military coalition – struck a civilian home in the village of Deir Al-Hajari in northwest Yemen. The intentional directing of attacks against the civilian population amounts to war crimes. ECCHR is taking legal action against this.

Spain

Trial of Spanish judge Garzón

Franco Dictatorship

The Spanish judiciary brought charges against judge Garzón, who declared his court competent to undertake preliminary investigations into the enforced disappearance, torture and execution during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship. Garzón was acquitted of the charges later-on. It remains doubtful whether Spain is willing to independently adress the past atrocities.

USA

France: Court investigates US torture cases

Guantánamo

Former Guantánamo detainees Sassi and Benchellali filed a complaint in France against William "Jim" Haynes. He was one of the Architects of the US torture system during the George W. Bush administration.

USA

Spain: Court accepts complaint against end of investigations into torture in Guantánamo

Guantánamo

In March 2009, a criminal complaint was filed against six former US officials regarding their accountability for violations of international law, including war crimes and torture. The US officials became known as the Bush Six.

USA

ECCHR supports "Extraordinary Rendition" case

Torture

ECCHR sumbitted an amici curiae brief in order to support the compensation claim in the Arar case. Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, was arrested and abducted by US officials in 2002 and brought to Syria. During his one-year detention he suffered torture and was imprisoned under inhumane conditions.

USA

Criminal Complaint against Bush

Torture

As a signatory of the Convention against Torture, the US is obliged to prosecute for these crimes. Nevertheless, there is evidence concerning the torture program after 11 September 2001 with a particular focus on the liability of high ranking US officials, including former President Bush.

USA

Rumsfeld torture cases

Torture

Between 2004 and 2007, three complaints were filed in Germany and in France against members of the US Government, including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and members of the military forces in connection with war crimes, torture and other criminal acts in the military prisons of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib.

USA

UN Committee against Torture accepts complaint by former Belgian Guantánamo detainee

Guantánamo

Belgium failed to investigate and prevent torture in US detention camp Guantánamo. Former detainee and Belgian citizen Zemmouri together with ECCHR argues that Belgian officials were complicit in the abuse.

USA

Germany: Criminal Complaint against CIA Director Gina Haspel

Torture

ECCHR has filed a criminal complaint with the German Federal Public Prosecutor calling for investigations into Gina Haspel's role in the torture of detainees at a CIA secret prison in Thailand in 2002. Haspel was appointed Director of the CIA by President Donald Trump in May 2018.

Uzbekistan

Criminal complaint against Zakir Almatov

Torture

A criminal complaint against former Uzbek minister of interior Zakir Almatov, the Uzbek head of secret service Rustan Inojatov, and others was filed to the Federal Public Prosecutor on behalf of eight Uzbek citizens because of torture and crimes against humanity.

United Kingdom

War crimes by UK forces in Iraq

Iraq

ECCHR demands investigations into the role and responsibility of British military officials in Iraq. A communication documents 2000 cases of grave mistreatment during the five years which UK forces operated in Iraq.

United Kingdom

Gamma/FinFisher: UK rebukes German-British software company

Surveillance

British-German surveillance technology provider Gamma infringed on its human rights obligations with products such as 'state trojan' FinFisher. This was confirmed by the UK's OECD National Contact Point. In 2013, ECCHR submitted a complaint against Gamma and German firm Trovicor.