UN expert urges U.S. to stop impunity for crime of torture

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-13 22:56:14|Editor: Mu Xuequan
Video PlayerClose

GENEVA, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- The UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer on Wednesday appealed to the United States to end a pervasive policy of impunity for crimes of torture committed by U.S. officials.

"In 2014, a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's detention and interrogation programme publicly acknowledged the systematic use of torture in U.S. custody," said Nils Melzer in a statement issued Wednesday.

"To this day, however, the perpetrators and policymakers responsible for years of gruesome abuse have not been brought to justice, and the victims have received no compensation or rehabilitation," he said.

The UN rights expert pointed out that by failing to prosecute the crime of torture in CIA custody, the U.S. is in clear violation of the Convention against Torture and is sending a dangerous message of complacency and impunity to officials in the U.S. and around the world.

Melzer said he was particularly concerned about detainees who had faced prolonged detention in almost complete isolation.

He highlighted the case of Ammar al-Baluchi, named 153 times in the Senate report, who is said to have suffered relentless torture for three-and-a-half years in CIA "black sites" before being moved to Guantanamo Bay, where his torture and ill-treatment are reported to continue.

"Mr. al-Baluchi has been held in isolation at a severely restricted-access facility at Guantanamo Bay for more than a decade," the Special Rapporteur said.

"In addition to the long-term effects of past torture, noise and vibrations are reportedly still being used against him, resulting in constant sleep deprivation and related physical and mental disorders, for which he allegedly does not receive adequate medical attention," he added.

The Special Rapporteur also expressed grave concern that statements extracted under torture appeared to be admissible under the 2009 Military Commissions Act and could therefore be used against al-Baluchi.

Stressing that the ban on torture and ill-treatment was absolute and allowed for no exceptions whatsoever, the UN expert said this is one of the most fundamental norms of international law, and its violation is listed among the most serious international crimes, including crimes against humanity and war crimes.

"I very much regret that, despite repeated requests, my predecessors and I have consistently been refused access to Guantanamo and other high security facilities in accordance with the standard terms of reference of my UN mandate," said Melzer.