USA's recognition that UN torture convention applies at Guantánamo welcomed

There are numerous allegations of torture at Guantánamo © DoD
In response to the US government’s recognition today in Geneva before the United Nations that the Convention Against Torture applies at Guantánamo, Zeke Johnson, Director of Amnesty International USA’s Individuals at Risk Programme, said:
“Acknowledging at last the long-established reality that UNCAT applies at Guantánamo is certainly a welcome move, however late in the day. 
“That said, the USA has still to come a long way before meeting its obligations under the anti-torture Convention. We have seen what happens when a government fails in this regard - as with the USA’s resort to torture and enforced disappearance at ‘black sites’ under the previous administration.
“Essential further steps would be to make crystal clear that it is bound by the Convention everywhere it exercises effective control, to fully implement the absolute prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment as contained in the Convention, and to immediately withdraw its reservations to the treaty, as well as to finally ensure full accountability and redress. Anything less falls short.”
Amnesty has submitted evidence to the Committee on the US government’s failure to end impunity and lack of redress for human rights violations, including: 
  • The use of “water-boarding”- effectively mock execution by interrupted drowning – and other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”. Despite former-President George W. Bush’s assertion that he personally authorised these techniques on specific detainees, no investigations into his assertions followed.
  • The CIA’s programmes of rendition and secret detention.  Compelling evidence that multiple human rights violations, including crimes under international law, were committed in these programmes have led to nowhere but a dead end and the perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity. 
Amnesty is also calling on President Obama to make public the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report into the CIA programme which remains classified. The report is believed to contain yet further evidence of torture and other ill-treatment meted out under presidential authority. 
Amnesty’s 46-page submission to the UN Committee also makes further recommendations in relation to a number of other issues, including the question of accountability for past torture by Chicago police, the USA’s use of solitary confinement against thousands of prisoners around the country, the use of electro-shock weapons in policing, the death penalty, and life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for under 18-year-olds. 

CAT committee

This is the third such review of the USA by the UN Committee against Torture, the Committee mandated by the Convention to overview its respect by member states, the others having been in 2000 and 2006. The USA has yet to implement many of the Committee’s previous recommendations. 

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