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UN rights expert urges prosecution of US officials responsible for torture

[JURIST] The UN Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights [official website] Ben Emmerson on Tuesday called for the prosecution [press release] of US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] and other government officials for the interrogation and torture of detainees. The statement follows the release of a US Senate committee report [JURIST report] that found CIA enhanced interrogation techniques were ineffective and more brutal than previously acknowledged. In response to the report, Emmerson said, "[t]he fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability." The Special Rapporteur also noted that under international law, the US must bring justice to those responsible for the alleged inhumane acts. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances [texts] both require that all states to prosecute crimes of torture and enforced disappearance when evidence is brought forth that could possibly sustain a conviction.

The CIA been continually accused of torturing terrorist suspects since the attacks on September 11, 2001. In September it was claimed [JURIST report] that the CIA used torture methods beyond waterboarding on suspected terrorists, according to a report [report] published by the Telegraph. In late August 10 victims of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program [JURIST news archive] signed an open letter [JURIST report] to US President Barack Obama urging him to declassify the upcoming Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the program. In July the European Court of Human Rights [official website] handed down two rulings [JURIST report] finding the Polish government in violation of European human rights laws based on the establishment of prison center linked to CIA's extraordinary rendition program in Poland. In June Senior UN officials urged [JURIST report] the international community to end the practice of torture in acknowledgment of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture [official website].

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