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Mission & Founding

About CJA

Mission & Founding

About CJA


The Center for Justice and Accountability is an international human rights organization dedicated to deterring torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other severe human rights abuses around the world through litigation, policy advocacy and outreach in pursuit of truth, justice and redress for victims and survivors.


CJA was founded in 1998 with support from Amnesty International and the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture to represent torture survivors in their pursuit of justice. CJA's first client was a Bosnian torture and detention camp survivor who experienced additional trauma after he learned that his torturer was living freely in the same community in the U.S. CJA recognizes that the need for justice is an integral component of a torture victim's recovery process and that healing cannot take place when the perpetrator continues to live without consequence.

What We Do

CJA is part of the movement for global justice for those who have been tortured or have suffered other severe human rights abuses. CJA was founded on the principle, first used during the Nuremberg trials after World War II, that certain crimes are so egregious that they represent offenses against all humankind. These crimes include genocide, crimes against humanity, extrajudicial killing and torture. CJA believes that perpetrators of such violations should be brought to justice wherever they are found.

CJA uses two civil laws to hold perpetrators of international human rights abuses accountable in the United States: the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). We also pursue criminal human rights cases before the Spanish National Court which has initiated investigations into abuses around the world. The most famous of these cases, against Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, represented the first time that a former head of state was prosecuted on the victims' initiative.

CJA has pioneered a survivor-centered approach to the quest for justice that combines legal representation with medical and psycho-social services to both empower and heal torture survivors and their communities.

CJA leverages resources by partnering with pro bono law firms and expert witnesses to help litigate our cases. We have built a unique network of partners which includes medical professionals, therapists, military and forensic experts, refugee groups, law school clinics, and other human rights non-governmental organizations.