While Kathryn Bigelow's new movie Zero Dark Thirty is generating controversy for its depiction of waterboarding and other so-called "harsh tactics," a European Court has become the first to rule in favor of a detainee in the war on terror who they specifically state was tortured by the CIA.
American courts have continued to throw out lawsuits brought against the U.S. government, and noted architects of interrogation policies such as John Yoo and Donald Rumsfeld. Even those brought by natural born U.S. citizens, as in the case of Jose Padilla, have been dismissed. Padilla's family has now taken their fight to an international human rights tribunal for redress.
The case of German citizen, Khalid El-Masri as seen in the video below, is finally a small light of hope for people who have suffered at the hands of the CIA's brutality. Khalid experienced some of the cruelties that others endured when caught in sweeping dragnets or false information given by paid informants, such as the case of German-born Turkish citizen Murat Kurnaz (his horrific story of five years of torture in Guantanamo Bay can be read here). Now, after 9 years, El-Masri has been recognized as a victim of U.S. policy.
The European Court of Human Rights unequivocally stated that the treatment El-Masri received after being picked up while on vacation in Macedonia was:
A violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights on account of the inhuman and degrading treatment to which Mr El-Masri was subjected while being held in a hotel in Skopje, on account of his treatment at Skopje Airport, which amounted to torture (emphasis added)
This is a significant ruling, as it is the very first time that a court anywhere has used the word torture, instead of the many euphemisms. Khalid El-Masri will receive $78,000 from Macedonia for their responsibility in handing him over to the CIA for rendition.
Clearly, for full justice to be served there must be penalties levied against the CIA, the architects of their interrogation programs, as well as the U.S. government itself. Khalid El-Masri's case is certainly to be celebrated as a small step in the right direction, and hopefully will serve as a precedent to be used in future cases brought against those responsible for their illegal and dehumanizing treatment of innocent people unlucky enough to draw their attention.
PDF Press Release of European Court Ruling:
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