From Amnesty International: Background on Torture Amendment
The notorious photos taken at Abu Ghraib
prison in Iraq demonstrate
that U.S. personnel have
been responsible for acts of torture and other forms of abuse, in violation of
the US commitments to
uphold international law. Amnesty International has interviewed former
detainees who were held in US custody in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo who also
reported being subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment during interrogation and detention.
Last year, President Bush stated that, “torture anywhere
is an affront to human dignity everywhere” and that “the United
States is committed to the world-wide
elimination of torture and [is] leading this fight by example.” The torture and ill-treatment of Iraqi
detainees at the hands of US personnel runs contrary to these words. As the world watches the US Government’s
response to the evidence of torture and ill-treatment in Iraq,
it is imperative that the United States
reaffirm its obligations under US and international law.
United States agreed to a prohibition on
torture and ill-treatment when it became a party to the Geneva Conventions,
International Covenant to Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture. Through ratification of these conventions,
the United States vowed that no person in US custody anywhere in the
world would be subjected to the “cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment or
punishment prohibited by the 5th, 8th, and/or 14th Amendments to the
Constitution” of the United States.
commander of the US forces in Iraq has now imposed a general bar (although
there is a concession if they get specific permission) against interrogators
using some so-called "stress and duress" techniques, including
prolonged sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation, stress positions, and use of
dogs. These are techniques that the Committee on Torture and others determined
to be in violation of the international prohibition on torture, cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment.
international community must know clearly that the United States is committed to the
longstanding prohibitions to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment. It is imperative that the Durbin Torture Amendment receives strong
bipartisan support to make clear that the US Government is committed to the
rule of law and the protection and promotion of human rights worldwide.
Reprinted by TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime