WCW Home Take Action Legal Action 12-10-17 North Carolina Torture Accountability Hearings
12-10-17 North Carolina Torture Accountability Hearings PDF Print E-mail

From Witness Against Torture

Learn More Raleigh Public Hearings

On November 30 and December 1, several hundred people gathered in Raleigh, North Carolina for an extraordinary event: the public hearings of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture.  Over two days, eight commissioners heard riveting and often heart rending testimony about the global rendition and torture program undertaken by the United States following the 9/11 attacks.  The witnesses included the world’s leading rendition researcher; military, ex-military, and ex-intelligence officers outspoken against torture; legal experts on human rights; psychologists who treat torture victims; and, via Skype, survivors of US torture. The Commission grew out of local, North Carolina efforts to protest Aero Contractors — a private airline company contracted by the CIA to carry out likely hundreds of rendition flights ferrying US captive to torture by the CIA or foreign governments.  The commissioners will author a report based on the hearings.

The NCCIT hearings were a landmark event.  The Bush administration sought to define out of existence, conceal, and immunize grave crimes. The Obama administration chose not to prosecute potential perpetrators of torture operating under legal directives from Bush’s DoJ.  Several lawsuits targeting torture policies have been dismissed from federal and international courts for reasons of executive privilege, state’s secrets provisions, and pressure from the US government. It has therefore been up to civil society actors like the NCCIT to provide at least symbolic forms of accountability for years of US torture.  The hearings further educated the public about US conduct, solidified the legal case that torture occurred, and may help to deter future uses of torture by fortifying a public narrative that it happened and that it was wrong.  The hearings also brought victims of torture into a judicial-style inquiry, simulating forms of due process that has been denied them.

For more on the hearings, including links to media and video archive of them, go to the NCCIT website.

More from the Center on Constitutional Rights

The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture held an open hearing on North Carolina's role in the U.S. torture program – including the extraordinary rendition and torture of our client Sharqawi Al Hajj, who has been detained in Guantanamo since 2004. Sharqawi was held in black sites for over two years prior to his transfer to Guantanamo. The NC Commission highlights the complicity of Aero Contractors, located in Johnson County, NC, which operated a plane involved in transferring detainees from site to site. The commission is a critical public-led initiative seeking to bring to bear some accountability for the torture program. Watch the video of the hearing here.

CCR has long worked for accountability for the U.S. torture program, from representing multiple torture survivors, to seeking to hold senior Bush administration officials accountable under the principle of universal jurisdiction in other countries.

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