[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on Monday filed a petition [press release] against the US with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) [official website] on behalf of three Afghans and three Iraqis who were allegedly tortured while being detained by the American military in Afghanistan and Iraq. The petition [text, PDF], which is an equivalent of an international legal complaint, alleges that, during their time of detainment between 2003 and 2004, the six men were subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment [press release] including beatings, cutting with knives, sexual assault, mock executions and prolonged restraint in excruciating positions. States the petition:
The US government's own reports document that the torture and inhumane treatment that Petitioners were subject to...was widespread and systemic throughout the US-run detention facilities in two countries. These same reports also document that the torture and inhumane treatment of detainees were the direct result of policies and practices promulgated and implemented at the highest levels of the US government.Asserting that the US government has failed to properly investigate the matter and prosecute those responsible for committing the alleged acts, the ACLU contends that the US should be held accountable on the world stage to ensure the government's respect of basic human rights. The US government has yet to respond to the allegations.
Originally filed in federal court against former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [ABC news backgrounder], the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] in March 2007 dismissed [JURIST report] allegations of torture and inhumane treatment by US military personnel against Afghan and Iraqi detainees. There, the court upheld a long-established principle that government officials are immune from lawsuits stemming from actions taken within the scope of their official duties. This rationale was upheld [opinion, PDF] by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] in dismissing the case on appeal [JURIST report]. The suit was brought [JURIST report] by the ACLU and Human Rights First [advocacy website] against Rumsfeld and other military officials in March 2005.