Amnesty International USA was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Michael Ratner, a groundbreaking human rights attorney and activist and a longtime friend and ally of the organization. For decades, he dedicated his life and legal expertise toward the advancement of human rights and the upholding of the United States Constitution. He served as President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and courageously provided legal representation for so many, including WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.
Over the years, Mr. Ratner partnered with Amnesty International and others on countless human rights endeavors. We worked together to reform the use of solitary confinement in the federal prison system and to demand accountability following the release of the Abu Ghraib photos. We supported a group of Nigerian survivors who filed a lawsuit in the U.S. seeking to hold oil companies liable for their involvement in human rights abuses committed in Nigeria, and to end the United States’ practice of indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay.
Upon hearing of his passing, Amnesty International USA Board Chair Ann Burroughs issued the following statement:
“Amnesty sends its deepest condolences to the Ratner family. Michael was not only one of the most innovative legal minds, but a pioneering and steadfast defender of human rights in the United States and around the word. His groundbreaking litigation made it possible for survivors of abuses committed outside the United States to have their day in court, and for the truth to come to light.
“When justice called, he answered. His work was at the heart of what it means to ensure there are no safe havens for human rights abusers, and his life and memory will live on as inspiration for us all to continue defending the rights of all human beings.”