US bans cruel treatment of detainees by worldwide personnel in policy shift

[JURIST] US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [official profile] announced [transcript] Wednesday that the US has changed its policy on the interrogations of detainees, and will impose a worldwide ban on US personnel subjecting prisoners to cruelty, citing obligations under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) [text]. The ban marks a staunch policy shift toward the international treaty, which prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and follows strong pressure from Europe and the US Congress. The announcement is a surprise as Rice was expected to tell Europe [JURIST report] to back off its criticisms of US interrogation policy. The Bush administration had previously interpreted the convention to apply only to US territory, a loophole that human rights groups have said the US has exploited to mistreat prisoners in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. The new policy was announced during Rice's trip to Ukraine and marks an important concession in US domestic politics. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a former Vietnam prisoner of war, has mounted pressure on the administration to close the loophole with his proposed anti-torture amendment [JURIST document], which was approved [JURIST report] 90-9 in the Senate and later unanimously reaffirmed [JURIST report]. The White House has previously said it would veto any bill to which the amendment is attached. Reuters has more.

 

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