A victory for eight former US military detainees in a federal lawsuit against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could bring a legal halt to abusive detention practices by the United States says a senior lawyer connected with the case.
The civil action torture suit, backed by the ACLU and Human Rights First, charges Secretary Rumsfeld with violations of the U.S. Constitution and international law prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
In an interview with online news broadcaster BreakForNews.com, Eric Biel, Senior Counsel in Human Rights First's Washington D. C. office, said that a primary objective of the case was to secure a judicial ruling of "declaratory relief" -an order that the objectionable actions 'cease and desist'.
"The court would be imposing through its legal authority, something that would obviously have to be monitired very closely, but would be intended to ensure that there was an end to the practices that were found, via this lawsuit, to be unconstitutional and at odds with international law," he said.
The suit also seeks compensatory damages for the former detainees, many of whom suffer severe ongoing effects from their abuse while in detention.
If successful, the case may not only rightfully reward these victims of state-sanctioned torture, but could provide a legal sanction capable of ending current US torture policies.
Audio Interview with Eric Biel, Senior Counsel
Human Rights First, Washington D.C.
on BreakForNews.com March 2, 2005
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