Census Trial adjourned

Press Release from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC)
Monday 14 May 2012

Census Trial adjourned as pressure grows over census firm's Abu Ghraib links

The trial of Barbara Dowling, a Glasgow woman accused of failing to send in a properly completed census form last year, has been adjourned until 25 September. The adjournment was granted at an intermediate diet in Glasgow Sheriff Court today following a motion by Barbara Dowling's solicitor. The trial had previously been scheduled for Tuesday 15 May.

The case is expected to raise issues that go to the heart of the links between CACI Ltd, the company contracted to carry out key work for Scotland's census, and the abuse and torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where staff employed by the company's US parent, CACI International, worked as interrogators from August 2003 to autumn 2005.

A number of former Abu Ghraib prisoners have been fighting for years to have their civil action against CACI heard in US courts. CACI has sought to block the case, arguing that it is immune, as a US government contractor, from this type of legal action. But on Friday 11 May a US federal appeal court dismissed CACI's arguments, clearing the way for torture victims to give their testimony before a US Court.

Richard Haley, Chair of SACC, said:

"The General Register Office for Scotland has repeatedly defended its decision to contract census work to CACI by saying that the allegations against CACI were unsubstantiated. But GROS knew quite well that lawsuits against CACI were working their way through the US courts and had not yet reached a stage where the factual basis of the allegations could be considered. And they knew quite well that CACI had in any case indisputably played a part in the operation of Abu Ghraib prison despite the fact that prisoners there were denied normal rights and safeguards.

"I hope that when Barbara Dowling's case comes to trial the court will take a good look at these issues. As well as that, we need a full inquiry into GROS's shabby handling of the census contract, and the misleading statements with which it has defended its position."

SACC will be pressing for a public inquiry into the circumstances that led to CACI being given the contract for work on Scotland's census.

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Notes

  1. CACI Ltd, the British firm contracted to carry out work for Scotland's census, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of US-based defence contractor CACI International, the firm implicated in the Abu Ghraib scandal.
  2. For more about Friday's federal appeal court ruling, see the press release from the Center for Constitutional Rights.
  3. Just 5 people have been charged over Scotland's census -statistics released by the Crown Office about prosecutions over the census
  4. The US derived its authority to hold Iraqis at Abu Ghraib Prison and elsewhere from a UN Security Council resolution giving Coalition forces the power to detain people in Iraq. But this cannot be interpreted as a right to impose long-term or indefinite detention without charge or trial, in violation of well-established international standards. For this reason, SACC believes that CACI's undisputed involvement in Abu Ghraib makes it complicit in human rights abuse, irrespective of whether the various other allegations against it turn out to be well founded.
  5. SACC encouraged people in Scotland to withhold cooperation from the census in protest at CACI's involvement. In statements published by the Ethical Census campaign initiated by SACC we said:

    "Most forms of non-cooperation are perfectly legal. If practised widely enough, legal non-cooperation would make it difficult or impossible for the census to be carried out."

    We also said:

    "Illegal forms of non-cooperation - civil disobedience, in other words - are in our view a morally and politically reasonable response to this disgraceful census."