How Guantanamo came to haunt the U.S. at the ICC

There are still 40 men held at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo. Without direct access to them, lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights, a U.S.-based organization, are using their stories of abuse and illegal detention to push the International Criminal Court to act against what the CCR calls a “U.S. torture program”. In the Afghanistan situation, the ICC Prosecutor has wished to investigate this American-supported global network of detention sites where individuals suspected of terrorism, after being picked up across the world, are moved outside the boundary of law. Our partners at Asymmetrical Haircuts discuss the contradictions of the U.S. policies towards international law with Katherine Gallagher, senior staff attorney for the CCR, right after she appeared before the ICC to advocate for an investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. Is there a tacit agreement among the powerful that they don’t hold each other accountable? she asks.

How Guantanamo came to haunt the U.S. at the ICC
© Frederic J. Brown / AFP
1 min 45Approximate reading time

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Katherine Gallagher came to talk to us just after speaking at the hearings at the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the judges’ decision not to allow a formal investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. The investigation has huge political ramifications because it potentially targets U.S. military personnel, as well as Afghan government forces and the Taliban. Prosecutors and lawyers for various victims tried to get the appeals chamber to overturn the decision in which the lower court said that it would not be in the ‘interests of justice’ to pursue the case .

Katherine is representing two men currently held at Guantanamo Bay  Sharqawi Al Hajj and Guled Hassan Duran who both passed through Afghanistan on their way to the US base. They were held at various ‘proxy detention sites’ overseen by the CIA and allegedly tortured.

With the Centre for Constitutional Rights, Katherine and her colleagues have been trying all avenues to try and get accountability in various courts for the U.S. torture programme and the establishment of Guantanamo Bay. You can read more from Katherine here on their work and why she considers the ICC case is so important.

Katherine Gallagher
Katherine Gallagher

Like many of our guests, Katherine doesn’t have much time to read outside her work apart from Buddhist texts, but she recently saw The Report – the Amazon movie on the CIA torture programme – along with her students from CUNY law school and was struck by how important it was to enable younger generations know what happened.

Asymmetrical Haircuts podcastASYMMETRICAL HAIRCUTS

This podcast has been published as part of a partnership between and Asymmetrical Haircuts, a podcast on international justice produced from The Hague by journalists Janet Anderson and Stephanie van den Berg, who retain full control and independence over the contents of the podcast.