[JURIST] Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, on Monday urged [press release] US President Donald Trump [official website] not to reinstate torture policies. Melzer referenced the 2014 US Senate Intelligence Committee Report [text, PDF], which stated that the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) [official website] use of “enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence” and “rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.” Melzer criticized Trump’s pledge to reinstate torture by claiming that “waterboarding” is a form of torture, that the use of torture is not legally or morally acceptable, and that the use of torture is prohibited by the Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [texts] and the Geneva Conventions [ICRC backgrounder]. Melzer concluded:
If the new Administration were to revive the use of torture, however, the consequences around the world would be catastrophic. … Should Mr. Trump follow through on all of his pledges, more countries are likely to follow his lead and get back into the torture business—an ultimate disgrace for all of humanity.
Many of Trump’s pledges and early actions have been met with international and domestic resistance. On Friday Trump issued an executive order restricting access to the US for refugees and visa holders from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The order further suspended admission of refugees from any country for 120 days while the administration is reviewing the visa program and limited the number of possible refugees for 2017 to 50,000. Over the weekend, several federal judges blocked [JURIST report] parts of the executive order. On Tuesday, Trump signed presidential memoranda to progress construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline [memoranda]. This decision has raised significant controversy [Reuters report], given former president Barack Obama’s stance against the pipelines, the fact that Trump owned stock in ETP, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, until at least mid-2016 and because its chief executive donated $100,000 to his campaign. Last Monday Trump reinstated [press release] a Reagan-era policy known as the Mexico City Policy [USAID statement] that prevents foreign non-governmental organizations from receiving US funding if they provide abortions or promote policies that may lead to abortions. The policy has since received criticism from pro-choice groups.