USA: Senate findings reinforce need for full commission of inquiry into torture

"There must be full accountability for the devastating consequences of the authorisation of torture and other unlawful practices as part of the ‘war on terror’”

"The US Senate inquiry acknowledges what has long been apparent - that the abuse of detainees in the ‘war on terror’ was not just due to a ‘few bad apples’ but that policies endorsed by senior US officials were a major cause of such abuse,” said Amnesty International today in reaction to the publication of the executive summary of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s investigation.

Among other things, the Committee concluded that President George Bush’s decision to deny detainees the protections of the Geneva Conventions and to make humane treatment a matter of policy rather than law contributed to abuse.

The Committee also found that former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld’s authorisation of “aggressive” techniques for use in Guantánamo in late 2002 - including stripping, hooding, sensory deprivation and the use of dogs - influenced interrogation policies in Afghanistan and later Iraq.

The Committee has only released the executive summary and conclusions of its report. The rest remains classified.

Amnesty International America Programme Director Susan Lee said:

“The conclusions of this investigation show the need for a comprehensive commission of inquiry into “war on terror” abuses, as well as the prosecution of anybody against whom there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing under national or international law, regardless of the person’s rank or position.

"There must be full accountability for the devastating consequences of the authorisation of torture and other unlawful practices as part of the ‘war on terror’.”

Amnesty warned that the establishment and operation of a commission of inquiry must not be used to block or delay the prosecution of any individuals against whom there is already sufficient evidence of wrongdoing.

The USA is required by international law to respect and ensure human rights, to thoroughly investigate every violation of those rights, and to bring perpetrators to justice, no matter their level of office or former level of office. Victims of human rights violations have the right under international law to effective access to remedy and reparation. In addition, there is a collective and individual right to the truth about violations.

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