Human rights groups Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy websites] on Tuesday issued a joint letter [text] to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) calling for the creation of a special prosecutor to investigate claims that Central Intelligence Agency agents used torture against detainees held at Guantanamo Bay prison and elsewhere. The groups said that the executive summary [text, PDF; JURIST report] of a US Senate investigation into the matter justified further action, and expressed disappointment that the DOJ had not continued the investigation after the report’s release:
the necessity of investigating issues of criminal liability is made more urgent by the fact that many of the individuals who authorized the conduct documented in the Senate torture report are publicly defending the necessity, effectiveness, and legality of that conduct. Against this background, we believe the failure to conduct a comprehensive criminal investigation would contribute to the notion that torture remains a permissible policy option for future administrations; undermine the ability of the United States to advocate for human rights abroad; and compromise Americans’ faith in the rule of law at home.
The groups later issued a similar statement [text] to the UN Human Right Council.
The CIA has been continually accused [JURIST feature] of torturing terrorist suspects since the attacks on September 11, 2001. Earlier this month, a former detainee alleged [JURIST report] that abuses went beyond those detailed in the Senate report. In December the UN Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights [official website] called for the prosecution [JURIST report] of CIA and other government officials for the interrogation and torture of detainees. That same month the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed during the Bush administration were deemed to be ineffective [JURIST report], according to the long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee Report. Last September it was claimed [JURIST report] that the CIA used torture methods beyond waterboarding on suspected terrorists, according to a 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.