Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called [report, PDF] Monday for the criminal prosecution of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] and other US government officials for their participation in torture programs following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack. The report found that the Obama administration faces no legal obstacles that would serve as impediments preventing investigation of torture allegations and prosecution, as there is sufficient evidence to warrant a complaint. The majority of this evidence surfaced from the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee [official website] and its release of the Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program [text, PDF], which found that detainees suspected of terrorism underwent waterboarding, rectal feeding, sleep deprivation and other systematic abuses. HRW called on the current administration and foreign governments to follow their road map of justice to ensure that former president George W Bush and other senior US government officials are held responsible for state-sanctioned torture and other related crimes:
The US government has not adequately accounted for these abuses. It has an obligation under international law to prosecute torture where warranted and provide redress to victims, but it has done neither. No one with real responsibility for these crimes has been held accountable and the government has actively thwarted attempts on the part of victims to obtain redress and compensation in US courts.
HRW believes the refusal to prosecute officials for their participation in the torture program is an undermining of rule of law that needs immediate rectification.
The use of torture as an interrogation technique has created many legal problems for the US government. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in October against two psychologists who devised the torture techniques used on three former CIA prisoners. In August 2014 10 victims of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program [JURIST news archive] signed an open letter [JURIST report] to President Barack Obama urging him to declassify the then-upcoming Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the program. The report has not yet been completely declassified due to safety concerns. 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, which HRW hopes to eliminate.