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US continues defense of detainee interrogation practices at UN torture panel

[JURIST] All US personnel are prohibited from using torture when interrogating terror suspects and other detainees, US Department of State legal adviser John Bellinger [official profile] told the UN Committee against Torture [official website] Monday during a second day of questioning [meeting summary] in an annual review of the United States' compliance with the Convention against Torture [text]. Bellinger and Deputy US Assistant Defense Secretary Charles Stimson told the panel that there had been "regrettable incidents or allegations" of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive], but insisted that adequate steps have been taken to ensure that interrogators follow US laws and proper procedure. Bellinger said that US intelligence agencies have consulted with the US Justice Department to make certain that internal policies follow the law, including the Detainee Treatment Act [JURIST document], enacted late last year to specifically prohibit the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons under custody or control of US forces. Bellinger refused to discuss specific interrogation practices with the committee.

During the first day of testimony [meeting summary; JURIST report], Bellinger and Stimson denied that the US uses extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] to transfer terror suspects to countries that have been known to use torture. The committee will issue a report on the US record when it concludes its current session on May 19. AP has more.

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