View Full Version : U.S. "Let's Torture Flourish"

05-02-2006, 08:53 AM
US 'lets torture flourish'


02/05/2006 08:14 - (SA)

London - The United States has failed to eradicate torture and ill-treatment of prisoners in its war on terrorism despite the international outcry over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and abusive behaviour at other US detention facilities, and is even allowing such practices to flourish, Amnesty International charged.

The London-based human rights organisation made its criticism in a report to the UN Committee against Torture, which will start meeting in Geneva this week to consider American compliance with the United Nations convention against torture and other cruel forms of punishment.

"Although the US government continues to assert its condemnation of torture and ill treatment, these statements contradict what is happening in practice," said Curt Goering, senior deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA.

"The US government is not only failing to take steps to eradicate torture. It is actually creating a climate in which torture and other ill-treatment can flourish - including by trying to narrow the definition of torture," he said.

Sexual abuse
Amnesty International also expressed concern over domestic US violations of the UN torture convention, including use of excessive force by police and electroshock weapons and abuses against women in the prison system. The latter allegedly include sexual abuse by male guards and shackling of women while pregnant and in labour.

In the overseas war on terror, the group charged that no senior American officials have been held accountable for incidences of torture or ill-treatment and said legislation passed by Congress in 2005 has "serious limitations."

One section of that law, it said, refers to "cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment" banned under the US Constitution as defined by a series of reservations the United States has expressed regarding the UN Convention against Torture.

The law is a step forward but still could leave the United States open to employ a narrower interpretation of what constitutes such treatment than is recognised under the convention, Amnesty said, adding that the United States should withdraw its reservations to the convention.

In Afghanistan, which US forces invaded a few months after the September 11 2001 attacks to oust the Taliban for harbouring al-Qaeda militants, hundreds of detainees remain in US custody with no recourse to due legal process or human rights protection, Amnesty said.

There is no longer an international armed conflict in Afghanistan, nor is there a clear or recognised legal framework governing US forces actions in that country, Amnesty said.

In the cases of both Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has reportedly improved its procedures for handling prisoners since the Abu Ghraib scandal.