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Abu Ghraib detainees reach settlement in historic lawsuit against military contractors

Here at ERI, we have been closely following two cases, Al-Quraishi v. L-3 Services, Inc., and Al Shimari v. CACI International, Inc., brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of detainees of military prisons in Iraq against two private military contractors alleged to have conspired to torture and abuse the plaintiffs at Abu Ghraib and other detention centers. Yesterday we were thrilled to learn that the Al-Quraishi case was resolved in a confidential settlement.

ERI has acted as an amicus in both cases, submitting briefs before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals arguing in support of the plaintiffs that their claims should be allowed to go forward and that they do not implicate the special “foreign affairs preemption doctrine,” which bars certain claims that interfere with U.S. foreign policy.

Last May, in an 11-3 decision, an en banc panel of the Fourth Circuit dismissed the defendant military contractors’ appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction and remanded the case back to the district court.

While the Al Shimari v. CACI case will now move forward into discovery before a court in the Eastern District of Virginia (the home district of CACI), the plaintiffs in Al-Quraishi v. L-3 Services, Inc., voluntarily dismissed their claims against L-3 after the case was resolved in a settlement, the terms of which are confidential.

This is a significant victory for the Al-Quraishi plaintiffs and for the struggle to increase the accountability of private military contractors. It is also an important reminder, at a time when all eyes are on the Kiobel case at the U.S. Supreme Court, that corporate accountability for violations of internationally recognized human rights can and will be achieved by various means. Although the Al-Quraishi and Al Shimari cases were brought under the Alien Tort Statute, they were also brought under traditional state law tort claims, and it was these state law tort claims that became the backbone of the litigation. 

Anti-torture activists rally in Washington DCAnti-torture activists rally in Washington DC

Photo by Justin Norman, used here under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license.