From the American Civil Liberties Union (08/05/2006)
The ACLU’s report to the Committee Against Torture is available here
The ACLU’s petition is available here
GENEVA — Today the American Civil Liberties Union delivered a petition with more than 51,000 signatures calling for the enforcement of the universal prohibition against torture to the U.S. State Department delegation at the meeting of the U.N. Committee Against Torture in Geneva. The ACLU has been monitoring the committee proceedings and providing information about U.S. sponsored policies and practices of torture and abuse at home and abroad. The U.S. delegation denied on Friday that incidents of detainee abuse are systemic.
“Instead of denying the systemic abuse of detainees confirmed by its own documents, the U.S. government must own up to the truth and take full responsibility,” said Amrit Singh, an attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project who is currently observing the committee’s examination of the U.S. report in Geneva. “We hope that the Committee Against Torture will hold the government accountable for the torture and abuse of detainees both within the United States and abroad.”
Addressed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and delivered to John Bellinger, a Department of State legal advisor who is heading the U.S. delegation, the petition states: “Torture. Government kidnapping. Indefinite detention. These are not ideas we associate with the United States of America. They do not represent who we are as Americans. By promoting and condoning these practices in our military and intelligence forces, your administration has broken faith with the American values of freedom and fairness.”
The ACLU also expressed deep concern with many of the responses of the U.S. delegation to questions posed by committee members. In particular, the ACLU is concerned about the inadequacy of the measures taken to prevent torture and abuse, and the failure to hold military and civilian leaders accountable for the torture and inhuman treatment of persons in U.S. custody. In addition, the U.S. said that it can kidnap persons from outside the U.S. and transport them to third countries without violating the Convention. The ACLU charges that the U.S. has illegally rendered detainees to countries and places where torture and abuse are common, and that diplomatic assurances have failed to prevent their torture.