Several CJA clients have been arbitrarily detained, often for long periods of time. Many were interrogated, starved, tortured, and raped or otherwise subjected to sexual and gender-based violence.
Arbitrary or unlawful detention occurs when an individual is arrested and detained by a government without due process and without the legal protections of a fair trial, or when an individual is detained without any legal basis for the deprivation of liberty.
Arbitrary arrests and detention are intimidation tactics used by governments to suppress dissent. Freedom from arbitrary detention is a fundamental right enshrined in Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet governments in countries like Egypt, Syria, and China are notorious for crackdowns on civilians and arbitrarily detaining them.
Our cases warn perpetrators that, despite years of impunity, they can still face accountability for arbitrarily detaining their victims.
For example, CJA brought a case on behalf of Abukar Hassan Ahmed, a Somali law professor who was arbitrarily detained and tortured under the orders of a former colonel— Abdi Aden Magan. Twenty five years after our client’s detention, a U.S. judge found Magan liable and ordered him to pay a total of $15 million in damages.
This was the first time that a court of law held a member of the notorious and widely feared Somali National Security Service accountable for human rights violations committed under the brutal military dictatorship that ruled Somalia for 20 years, the Siad Barre regime.
In addition to our litigation, through our policy work, CJA advocates for expanding the Torture Victims Protection Act to include a civil claim for arbitrary detention.