UN torture report confirms US transgressions 10

US ‘must end secret detentions’

From BBC Online

The US should close any secret “war on terror” detention facilities abroad and the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba, a United Nations report has said. The UN Committee against Torture urged the US to ensure no one was detained in any secret facility.

The report followed the first US appearance before the committee since the 11 September 2001 attacks. A legal spokesman for the US state department said the report contained “factual and legal inaccuracies”.

John Bellinger admitted that some “acts of abuse” had occurred in the past, but insisted the US was taking steps to prevent any repeat. “I think without a doubt our record has improved over the last few years,” he told the AFP news agency. “We take our obligations under the convention seriously.”

During the hearing in early May, the US neither confirmed or denied the existence of secret prisons. The US has been holding hundreds of terror suspects arrested since 11 September at facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba. It has been accused of operating secret prisons and transporting some detainees to states which use torture.

The committee also recommended in its 11-page report that the US should:

– Register all those it detains in territories under its jurisdiction

– Eradicate torture and ill-treatment of detainees

– Not send suspects to countries where they face a risk of torture

– Enact a federal crime of torture

– Broaden the definition of acts of psychological torture

‘Investigate and disclose’

The committee said it recognised that the 11 September attacks had caused “profound suffering” to the US and welcomed the US statement that officials from all government agencies were prohibited from engaging in torture at all times.

But it told the US its no-comment policy on the secret facilities was “regrettable” and asked for more information.

“The state party should investigate and disclose the existence of any such facilities and the authority under which they have been established and the manner in which detainees are treated,” the report said.

Detaining people in such conditions was a violation of the UN Convention against Torture, it said.

It also called on the US to end detentions at the Guantanamo Bay camp and close it, releasing detainees or giving them access to a judicial process.

It called for “immediate measures” to eradicate torture and ill-treatment of detainees by US military personnel “in any territory under its jurisdiction”.

It called for an end to interrogation techniques it said constituted torture, such as the use of dogs to scare detainees or sexual humiliation, which the Abu Ghraib prison scandal brought to light.

‘Take heed’

The recommendations are not binding but the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes says the committee’s conclusions will not make comfortable reading for the US, with the assertion that secret camps do constitute torture.

The US has maintained that it is engaged in a long term war on terror and that some aspects of the convention on torture may not apply.

But the UN committee rejected this, our correspondent says, saying the total ban on torture applies in time of peace, war or armed conflict and anyone violating the convention should be prosecuted.

Human rights groups welcomed the report.

“We hope that the United States will take heed of this report and really begin to rethink and change its policies on a number of practices, including secret prisons, lack of accountability for abuse, and transfer of prisoners to places where they may be tortured,” Jennifer Daskal of Human Rights Watch told Reuters news agency.

The committee has asked the US to respond within a year to its recommendations.

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10 thoughts on “UN torture report confirms US transgressions

  • Richard II

    "The US should close any secret 'war on terror' detention facilities abroad and the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba"

    Why? Torture is providing the information required to beat the terrorists. Don't believe me? Check the statistics:

    . 4 Guatanamo prisoners attempted suicide in a single day earlier this month.

    . 39 suicide attempts at Guantanamo by 23 detainees since the prison opened in 2002.

    . A single detainee accounts for 12 of the 39 attempts. [Obviously guilty as hell, this guy needs some more torturing to extract the crucial information he's withholding.]

    . In 2003, there were 350 self-harm attempts. [Evidence of guilt, if you ask me; America is on the right track]

    . In a single week that year, 23 prisoners tried to hang themselves with nooses fashioned from ripped sheets. [What can you expect from terrorists? Being held captive by the freest and most democratic nation in the world must be a living hell for them – no wonder they're desperate to die!]

    . A mass hunger strike in 2005 at one point involved about 130 prisoners until camp medics intervened with force-feedings. [These terrorists shouldn't be allowed to slip into unconsciousness – not until they have surrendered the vital information they hold].

    Torture clearly works – the Nazis understood that! The world is a safer place because of America.

    I suggest increasing the intensity of torture. The U.S. must now start carrying out sadistic medical experiments, the kind Josef Mengele carried out at Auschwitz. These terrorists must be made to fear every waking moment – only then will they talk – only then will the world be safe.

  • Chuck Unsworth

    The UN Committee has, essentially, let the US off the hook. It has given the United States a whole year to continue with these outrageous abuses, before it 'responds'.

    And what then? A 'program of overhaul', a 'review of practices', even – at best – a 'program of closure' lasting (say) a couple of years?

    The UN is doing its Landlord's work by allowing this continuation. Let's hope that most will see this report for what it is, a charade.

    Bellinger is probably right when he says that the US takes its obligations seriously, but what does that actually translate to in terms of action? The fact is that these obligations are seen by the US merely as a series of legalistic hurdles to overcome or work round.

    There is no ethical or moral dimension to US Foreign Policy whatsoever. The only interest it displays is that of self-interest – and sadly, not even enlightened self-interest. It is a remarkable manifestation of the classic inability or unwillingness of America to understand most of the rest of the world.

    'The American Way' is now a term of utter contempt, and Americans should not wonder why they are so despised.

  • Richard II

    Chuck wrote: "There is no ethical or moral dimension to US Foreign Policy whatsoever."

    Nor is there any to British foreign policy. You only have to read "Web of Deceit" by Mark Curtis to realise that.

    Home page:

    Chronology of British foreign policy:

    >The only interest it displays is that

    >of self-interest

    A very British trait, too.

    >…and sadly, not even enlightened


    Sure we're not talking about the British?

    >'The American Way' is now a term of

    >utter contempt, and Americans should

    >not wonder why they are so despised.

    When it comes to Iraq, though, Britain should be equally despised. Britain began to take possession of Iraq in 1914, and subsequently killed many thousands of Iraqis. Britain put the minority Sunnis in charge of the majority Shias.

    It was Britain that helped turn Iraq into a country whose history was destined to be filled with bloodshed.

    America may have opened a Pandora's box in Iraq, but Britain had a large hand in creating that box.

    Shame on the British!

  • Richard II

    From an article:

    "…Then, in 1901, as Winston Churchill, a staunch champion of the British Empire (he was against the independence of India), wrote, in 1957, 'every man, woman, and child was swept [by the British invaders] into concentration camps.' This is when and where the notorious term of the 20th century originated.

    "Churchill also notes that 'the years of the war saw a surge of patriotism among the vast majority of the British people.' Those who were against the war in which the entire civilian population was put into concentration camps were just traitors (they were called 'Boers').

    "In the 20th century, the conquests of the British Empire ceased and the empire disintegrated. Thus, India became independent, contrary to Churchill's wishes.

    Reading that, do you see any difference between how the British behaved in the past and how Americans are behaving now?

  • Chuck Unsworth

    For clarity – and with my apologies to Craig who actually owns this blog:

    1. My comments refer principally to the present UN report upon current US activity.

    2. They do not address historical considerations relating to either British or American policy, in the Middle East or indeed elsewhere.

    3. They should not be regarded as an apologia for former, or current, British actions and policy.

    4. That some British foreign policy and action may have led to earlier disasters is undoubtedly true. That the United States has failed to learn from this is unfortunately glaringly apparent.

  • Richard II

    Chuck, why don't you address you comments to me instead of Craig? Is being polite too much effort for you?

    I wasn't criticizing you. But let's stop pretending Britain gives a damn, and that the British are somehow morally superior to the Americans.

    I'm British. Time the people of this country take a good look at themselves instead of bashing America all the time. This country has become an embarrassment.

    Why hasn't Craig made a post about Diego Garcia, for instance? What we did to the Chagossians was shocking. It's a story that's been covered up for decades, by both Labour and Conservative governments.

    Does Craig have a conscience or not? Or is this just about Craig finding an alternative career to being an ambassador?

    >For clarity – and with my apologies to

    >Craig who actually owns this blog:

    What does that mean? Apologies to Craig?

    If I can't post my thoughts, what's the point of Craig having this blog? As an ego trip? For entertainment? To sell his book so he can make enough money to enjoy his life?

    Fine, I won't post anymore. You and Craig can have this blog all to yourselves.

    Evidently, no one on here is really serious. It's just about having a good chin-wag between stuck-up friends.

    The English upper classes all over!

  • Richard II

    I'll have my say, Chuck.

    Apologies to Craig? For what? For writing this:

    Craig writes:

    "British American Tobacco is the largest foreign investor in Uzbekistan. They deserve congratulation on their efforts to improve the lot of the farmers who supplied them and to encourage real private enterprise."

    Praising a tobacco company? A corporation that tries to ply children with an addictive substance that will kill 50% of those who take up the habit – all so that BAT and its executives can make obscene amounts of money.

    Read this article about BAT:

    BAT is nothing but a criminal enterprise.

    Seems, like Tony Blair, Craig's sympathies lie with the corporations.

    Just remember Chuck that Craig claimed he became an ambassador because he thought British values meant something.

    You, Chuck, want to perpetuate this myth, so that another generation grows up ignorant of the truth.

    Seems, like Tony Blair, you're not bothered by having blood on your hands.

  • Richard II

    "For clarity – and with my apologies to Craig who actually owns this blog:"


    Yes, we must respect property rights, musn't we, Chuck?

    Human rights? What are they? Property rights? Oh yes, I've heard of them!

    Those with money have a voice; those without should crawl back under the stone they came from.

    Chuck, are you "New Labour" by any chance?

    Well, you and Craig can have your blog back. I'm evidently wasting my time here.

    Craig Murray cares more about corporations and "real private enterprise" than people, and Chuck cares more about "property rights" than human rights.

    Live and learn.

Comments are closed.