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UN Secretary-General urges end to torture in all circumstances

[JURIST] United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official websites] expressed [official statement] his support for the end to torture under all circumstances on Monday. Speaking on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture [UN materials], Ban called the legal prohibition of torture "crystal clear," and stated that the practice can "never be used at any time or under any circumstances, including during conflict or when national security is under threat.". In his statement, Ban emphasized [UN News Centre report] that, "despite its absolute prohibition under international law, this dehumanizing practice remains pervasive and, most disturbingly, is even gaining acceptance." He pointed to the Convention Against Torture [OHCHR materials] which obligates states to prevent torture and redress, compensate and rehabilitate those victims of torture within their jurisdiction. He also asked each of state that ratified the Convention Against Torture, including 159 UN member states to date, to support the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture [UN materials].

The use of torture as an interrogation technique has created many legal problems for the US government as well as other entities. Last April, a federal judge from the ruled [JURIST report] that a lawsuit [brief, PDF] against two former military psychologists who developed the CIA's interrogation program under former US President George W. Bush may proceed. In February Amnesty International USA [advocacy website] alleged [JURIST report] that Mustafa al-Hawsawi, one of the accused 9/11 ringleaders, was in desperate need of medical care in a letter to the Pentagon. In the letter the agency stated that Hawsawi was in severe rectal distress due to interrogation methods that amounted to torture and that he had yet to receive adequate medical care. In December Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called [JURIST report] for the criminal prosecution of CIA and other US government officials for their participation in torture programs following the 9/11 terrorist attack. In August 2014 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 Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the program. JURIST Guest Columnist Benjamin G Davis of the University of Toledo College of Law recently discussed [JURIST op-ed] the barriers that survivors of torture face in obtaining redress through the US court system..

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