Torture, No. 502
ADA affirms our country’s commitment to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified by the United States in 1994. Under the Convention, any and all forms of torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment are prohibited absolutely, in all situations and at all times, as is the transfer of any person under any circumstances to a place where he or she would be at risk of such abuse.
ADA condemns the detention practices at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Detaining civilians indefinitely is cruel and inhumane; it should not be practiced by the United States. The U.S. courts are coming to share this view. In June 2007, the New York Times reported that the federal appeals court in Richmond, VA (one of the most conservative courts in the country) ruled that the President “may not declare civilians in this country to be ‘enemy combatants’ and have the military hold the indefinitely.” Although this case was not directly related to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, it may foreshadow future decisions in the Guantanamo Bay cases. Furthermore, Jennifer Daskal, advocacy director of the United States Program of Human Rights Watch, said that on 4 June, 2007, “two military judges handpicked to preside over the Guantanamo Bay trials rejected the claim that a presidential order alone was sufficient to give the courts jurisdiction over the detainees…And today, one of the most conservative courts squarely rejected the president’s unprecedented assertion that he, alone, could hand out the label of ‘enemy combatant’ without any sort of independent court review.” Given the immorality and the horrors of torture, along with U.S. rhetoric against torture, ADA can do no less than speak out against the practices at Guantanamo Bay.
There is substantial evidence that in the course of the “war on terrorism,” the United States government has transferred alleged terrorist suspects to countries where it knows the suspects will be at risk of torture or ill treatment. Recipient countries have included Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen, where torture is a systematic human rights problem.
ADA condemns this practice of “rendition” to torture as contrary to the values of the United States as enshrined in the Bill of Rights. We believe that the United States must uphold the very ideals it seeks to promote worldwide. These ideals include a commitment to the most basic of human rights, namely the right to be free from torture.
Furthermore, according to the Boston Globe, in a signing statement attatched to the 2006 Defense Spending Bill, which included a ban on the cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees being held by the U.S. military and civilian federal agencies such as the CIA, President Bush declared “that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush elieves he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said.” The U.S. must not practice or sanction and kind of torture, and statements like the one issued by president Bush with regard to the 2006 Defense Spending Bill send a contradictory message.
In particular, we call for the passage of:
Senate Bill S. 1469, “Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility Closure Act of 2007”, now before the committee on Armed Services, which would shut down the department of defense detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
House Bill H.R. 1325, “Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act,” sponsored by Rep. Edward J Markey (D-MA), now before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, which would prohibit the transfer or return of persons by the United States, for the purpose of detention, interrogation, trial, or otherwise, to countries where torture or other inhumane treatment of persons occurs.
We call for complete, thorough criminal and legislative investigations and reporting to the U.S. Congress of torture and other forms of prisoner abuse.
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Foreign and Military Policy Commission