Introducing Clara Brillembourg

Brillembourg_ClaraIt’s our great pleasure today to welcome Clara Brillembourg as an IntLawGrrls contributor. Clara advises sovereign governments and companies on international matters involving both dispute resolution and corporate social responsibility.

Clara’s International Litigation and Arbitration practice focuses on the representation of sovereign States in international disputes with other States, foreign investors and before U.S. courts. She represents sovereign States before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in disputes involving territorial rights, human rights and environmental harm, and counsels States in maritime delimitation cases before the ICJ, arbitral tribunals and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

Clara also has extensive experience representing sovereigns in arbitral proceedings concerning foreign investment disputes before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and other prominent arbitral fora. Her representation of foreign States also includes domestic litigation before U.S. federal courts, often involving the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA).

In her Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practice, Clara advises clients, particularly multinational corporations, on corporate social responsibility issues in their global business activity. She advises corporate clients regarding their international standards and context-specific risks related to human rights, security and social issues.

Clara earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. from Harvard College. Before entering law school, Clara served as a Junior Professional Associate with the World Bank’s Environment Department and African Human Development Department, working on the bank’s legal policies on the environment and indigenous peoples, and implementing development projects in Africa. Prior to joining Foley Hoag, she was associated with two global law firms.

Clara’s introductory post today discusses upcoming activities of the Women in International Law Interest Group (WILIG) of the American Society of International Law.  Heartfelt welcome!

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A $15 Million Dollar Torture Partnership

Poland CIA Prison

By Amrit Singh

It has been common knowledge for a while that Poland hosted a secret CIA prison where Abd al Rahim al Nashiri and other prisoners now held in Guantánamo were detained and tortured.  As Warsaw and Washington struggle in vain to hide this truth from the public, fresh revelations from the Washington Post now confirm that the CIA paid Poland $15 milllion to host that prison. In early 2003, two senior CIA officers delivered the cash in large cardboard boxes to Col. Andrzej Derlatka, the deputy chief of Polish intelligence, and two of his associates.

This is significant news for many reasons. First, Europe’s top human rights court justheard oral arguments in two companion cases brought on behalf of al Nashiri and another Guantánamo prisoner, Abu Zubaydah. The cases challenge Poland’s participation in the CIA’s secret detention program. The fact that Poland received $15 million in cash as reward for its participation further confirms the overwhelming evidence the Court has already received in support of the applicants’ claims in these pending cases.

Second, news of the $15 million payment has created a public uproar in Poland. Even skeptics of the Guantánamo prisoners’ claims are now persuaded of Poland’s complicity in torture; and those who until now clung to the idea that this complicity was driven by lofty Polish ideals cynically recognize the power of money. It will be interesting to see how the Polish authorities decide to respond. Since 2008, they have been dragging out a pending (and ineffective) investigation into the CIA prison. The new revelations raise the question of whether domestic pressure, combined with the pending European Court proceedings, will compel the authorities to stand up to Washington and fess up to the truth. Fifteen million dollars seems a paltry amount for a country like Poland to receive for sacrificing its own constitutional ideals and facing potential censure before Europe’s highest human rights court. (Significantly, in December 2012, the court held that Macedonia had violated the European Convention through its participation in the secret detention and rendition of German national Khaled el Masri).

Meanwhile, in Washington, a 6,000 page Senate intelligence committee report on CIA secret detention and interrogation continues to be withheld from the public, despite the fact that the majority of the committee believes the CIA’s secret prisons and torture techniques were “terrible mistakes.”  It is not clear when this report will see the light of day and in what form. What is clear, however, is that the truth will come out one way or another, no matter how hard the Obama administration, the intelligence community’s allies, and Republican lawmakers try to cover it up.

Yesterday the news was about Macedonia’s complicity in CIA torture; today the news is about Poland; tomorrow it will be about Romania and Lithuania, which also hosted secret CIA prisons and also face litigation before the European Court.

Indeed, that the United States co-opted as many as 54 countries into unlawful CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations may ultimately mean that there is only so much the administration can do to cover up the truth.  In the face of snowballing disclosures, the U.S. and its partners in torture would be well advised to own up to their responsibility before the truth emerges by other means to embarrass them.

(Crossposted from Just Security: A Forum on Law, Rights, and U.S. National Security)

Introducing Amrit Singh

Amrit Singh pic

It’s our great pleasure today to welcome Amrit Singh as an IntLawGrrls contributor. Amrit is Senior Legal Officer for National Security and Counterterrorism at the Open Society Justice Initiative. She is counsel in al Nashiri v. Poland, and al Nashiri v. Romania, cases pending before the European Court of Human Rights, and author of Globalizing Torture:  CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition (Open Society Justice Initiative 2013).

Prior to joining the Open Society Justice Initiative, Amrit was a Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she litigated numerous cases relating to immigrants’ rights issues and post-September 11, 2001 human rights abuses, including ACLU v. Dep’t of Defense, which yielded the public disclosure of the “torture memos,” among thousands of other government records relating to the Bush administration’s torture program.

Amrit is co-author (with Jameel Jaffer) of Administration of Torture: A Documentary Record from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond (Columbia University Press 2007).  Ms. Singh has previously testified before the United States Congress on the subject of prisoner abuse and torture associated with the Bush Administration’s application of “enhanced interrogation techniques.”  She is a graduate of the Yale Law School, Oxford University, and Cambridge University, U.K.

Amrit’s first post  discusses revelations that the CIA paid Poland $15 million in 2003 to host a secret CIA prison.

Heartfelt welcome!