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US 'war on terror' threatens torture ban, UN human rights chief says

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile] on Wednesday said that the US-led war on terror has threatened the world ban on torture and weakened the US' international standing on human rights. Arbour said that "unassailable" principles against torture had been sacrificed in the war on terror, pointing to secret detention centers for prisoners and extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive], both of which the US is alleged to have used. The US has consistently denied using torture against terror suspects, but a series of reports [JURIST report] over the past several weeks have linked the US to secret CIA-run prisons in eastern Europe. Arbour said US reassurances on the issue were not acceptable because its activities were carried out in complete secrecy. Her comments were made ahead of Human Rights Day [official website] on Saturday, when the World Health Organization will highlight human rights issues [UN News report] for people with mental disorders. US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton [official profile] called Arbour's comments "inappropriate" and made without any supporting evidence. Earlier Wednesday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced a major shift in US policy [JURIST report] to ban cruel treatment of detainees by internationally-based personnel. Reuters has more.

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