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UN expert urges US accountability for torture
UN expert urges US accountability for torture

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer [official website] on Wednesday called on the US to end impunity [press release] for those officials who have committed acts of torture.

Melzer urged US authorities to take action on the findings in the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee Report [JURIST report], which found that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] deliberately misled Congress and the White House about information obtained using enhanced interrogation techniques between 2002 and 2007, and that those techniques were more brutal than the public was led to believe. Melzer noted that, to date, “the perpetrators and policymakers responsible for years of gruesome abuse have not been brought to justice” and called on the US to “end its policy of impunity” by “bringing its own perpetrators to justice.”

This is one of the most fundamental norms of international law, and its violation is listed among the most serious international crimes, including crimes against humanity and war crimes. No circumstances, however exceptional and well argued, may be invoked to justify torture.

Melzer contends that the US has violated its duties under the Convention Against Torture [text] by failing to prosecute the instances of torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment outlined in the Senate Report, and that this failure “is sending a dangerous message of complacency and impunity to officials in the US and around the world.”

The Special Rapporteur has previously called on the Trump administration not to reinstate [JURIST report] so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” fearing that US assent to the practices could lead other countries to “get back into the torture business.”