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Michael Ratner

Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and the President of European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin.  Both are non-profit human rights litigation organizations.  He was part of the small group of lawyers that first took on representation of the Guantánamo detainees in January 2001, a case that resulted in a victory in the Supreme Court in 2004. CCR established a network of over 600 pro bono lawyers to represent Guantanamo detainees and continues that work with the hope of finally shutting Guantánamo down. CCR is actively litigating against killings by drones and represents the family of Al-Awlaki in a damage case against government officials.

He and CCR are currently U.S. counsel for Wikileaks and Julian Assange. He is also engaged in efforts in European courts to bring US officials including former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld  to justice for the Abu Ghraib abuse and torture as well as for their actions at Guantánamo. A major area of Mr. Ratner’s litigation and writing is the enforcement of the prohibition on torture and murder against various dictators and generals who travel to the United States. He has sued on behalf of victims in Guatemala, East Timor, Haiti, Argentina, among other countries. He has also litigated numerous suits to prevent or stop illegal US wars ranging from Central America to Iraq. A constant in his work has been litigation against government spying and surveillance of activists including the targeting of Muslims particularly since 9/11. He and CCR are active on issues of Palestinian rights, represented the Gaza flotilla, the family of Rachel Corrie, and work to protect advocacy on behalf of Palestine  in the United States.

Ratner’s books, authored or co-authored include, Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in 21st-Century America (2011); and Killing Che: How the CIA Got Away with Murder(2011). Other books include International Human Rights Litigation in U.S. Courts, Second Edition (2008); Against War with Iraq (2003); Guantanamo: What the World Should Know (2004); and The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book (2008). He has taught human rights litigation at Yale and Columbia Law Schools. A past president of the National Lawyers Guild, Ratner has received many awards, among them Trial Lawyer of the Year, the Columbia Law School Medal of Honor (2005), the North Star Community Frederick Douglass Award, Honorary Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School (2005), and The Nation Institute/Puffin Foundation Prize for Creative Citizenship (2007). In 2006, the National Law Journal named Ratner as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the United States.


Return to Tribute to Justice: Remembering 40 years September 9th 2013.