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May 05, 2006

U.S. Must Clarify Commitment to Abide by McCain Ban on Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment

(New York, May 5, 2006) – The United States’ opening presentation before the U.N. Committee against Torture failed to make clear the United States’ commitment to fully implement the McCain ban on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment for all prisoners in U.S. custody.  Human Rights First called on the Administration to implement a single interrogation standard for all prisoners in keeping with the McCain legislation.

“If the Administration continues to carve out groups of people who are not ‘legally entitled’ to protection from torture and abuse, as it suggested again today, it’s hard to understand how it intends to comply with the law Congress passed that prohibits the abuse of all detainees held anywhere by any U.S. personnel,” Rona said. 

Human Rights First International Legal Director Gabor Rona is on hand to monitor the presentation by the 26-person delegation from the United States before the Committee – a distinguished group of experts in international law. 

The U.S. delegation stated that, with respect to individuals held by the United States abroad, it is not legally bound by the torture treaty prohibition against transfers of individuals to countries where the individuals face a risk of torture. The United States also declined to provide the Committee with meaningful information about extraordinary renditions, a practice by which the United States has transferred individuals to other countries where they have faced questioning under torture.   

The United States acknowledged some instances of abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, but maintained that these were isolated cases that have been investigated and appropriately punished.  The Committee appeared skeptical.  Human Rights First has documented a lack of accountability for senior command implicated a series of detainee deaths in U.S. custody.  Recent accountings have identified more than 330 cases of abuse, torture or killings of detainees implicating more than 600 U.S. personnel.  Only a fraction of those implicated have been held responsible, and only 10 individuals received prison sentences of a year or more.

For more reporting from Human Rights First in Geneva, please visit /2006/05/03/u-n-convention-against-torture-observations/.