Guantanamo is symbol of degraded torture convention: UN rights chief

Guantanamo is symbol of degraded torture convention: UN rights chief

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] said [press release] Thursday that the US detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archives] are "high-profile symbols" of a trend toward finding ways to circumvent the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) [text]. In order to close the "Guantanamo chapter," Pillay said, remaining inmates "must either be tried before a court of law – like any other suspected criminal – or set free." Rejecting "creative ways" of treating detainees as criminals without trial, Pillay said that:

Guantanamo showed that torture and unlawful forms of detention can all too easily creep back in to practice during times of stress, and there is still a long way to go before the moral high ground lost since 9/11 can be fully reclaimed.

As CAT makes clear, people who order or inflict torture cannot be exonerated, and the roles of certain lawyers, as well as doctors who have attended torture sessions, should also be scrutinized.

Pillay urged countries to accept detainees who are released from US custody but may be tortured or treated unjustly in their home countries, "including first and foremost the United States itself."

Last month, Pillay urged the US [JURIST report] to hold accountable those accused of committing torture under the Bush administration. In April, UN special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak [official profile, DOC] insisted that under international law the US must prosecute Department of Justice lawyers who drafted recently released memos [JURIST reports] detailing harsh interrogation techniques. Obama has said that he would not rule out the possibility of prosecuting [transcript; JURIST report] lawyers responsible for authoring the memos.