Two European judges have opened investigations into the torture of detainees held at Guantánamo Bay detention center. Three French citizens assert in a lawsuit that they were “subject to violence including torture and rape” while being held at Guantánamo. Sophie Clement, the judge overseeing the case, is asking that the US allow her to visit the prison and grant her access to all information regarding the three Frenchmen. In Spain, Judge Pablo Ruz has decided to restart a stalled inquiry into claims that four Spanish citizens were tortured while being detained at Guantánamo. The case was previously halted while the judge waited for information from the United States. After determining that no information would be forthcoming, Judge Ruz reopened the case. Ruz has announced his intention to investigate several top-level US officials for their role in the torture of detainees at the prison. This is not the first time that Spain has tried to hold US officials accountable for human rights abuses at Guantánamo. As part of a lawsuit filed in the Spanish courts in 2009 by three Spanish citizens who had been held at the detention center, prosecutors opened a probe into the actions of lawyers from the Office of Legal Counsel and the White House. The investigation was later shelved in response to appeals by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). While France and Spain get tough on torturers, many are left wondering when the United States will do the same. International investigations of abuse are necessary, especially in light of the United States’ failure to prosecute the US government officials responsible for the torture of detainees at Guantánamo and elsewhere. In a McClatchy Newspapers article on recent international investigations, James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, is quoted as saying:
These crimes are universal crimes and it’s very clear that until the United States holds to account those responsible for these crimes, other judicial actors in other countries are going to press for accountability.