Letter from more than 100 groups to UN demanding accountability for US torture and other abuses

24/06/2015
Press release
USA

Last December, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the summary, findings and conclusions of its four-year investigation into the Detention and Interrogation Program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Since then, the international human rights community has reiterated the call for full transparency about and accountability for this unlawful program, in which systematic human rights violations, including the crimes under international law of torture and enforced disappearance were committed. Last March, more than 20 human rights groups called on the Council to take action and demand that the United States fulfill its international human rights obligations on truth, accountability and remedy, including by appointing a special prosecutor to conduct a comprehensive and credible criminal investigation of alleged serious crimes described in the report and to establish a special fund to compensate victims.

Last month, during the United States’ UPR session, a significant number of Member-States joined civil society’s call and raised the issue of accountability and reparations for the use of torture and other human rights violations in the context of U.S. counter-terrorism policies and practices.

They also emphasized the need to end indefinite detention and close the Guantánamo detention facility, one of the remaining examples of the unlawful actions taken in the name of national security since the attacks of 11 September 2001. Delivering justice for the victims and ending indefinite detention in Guantánamo are both issues that still require more decisive and urgent action from the Obama administration.

On 26 June, the world will mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The U.S. government was a strong supporter of the adoption of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), which is commemorated every year on this day. The United States is also a generous contributor to the U.N. Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. But the U.S.’s failure to hold accountable those responsible for the CIA program of torture and enforced disappearance, to ensure the victims’ rights to truth and reparations, and to take other actions to ensure non-repetition of these heinous crimes leaves the U.S. in violation of its own obligations under UNCAT and other international instruments and is a serious blow to the international human rights system, in general, and to the global effort to eradicate torture and enforced disappearance, in particular.

During its next session, the Council will adopt the Working Group report on the U.S. UPR. We call on the Council to send a strong message against impunity for torture and enforced disappearances and demand that the United States take measures to meet the full spectrum of its obligations under international law to ensure accountability, transparency, reparations and non-repetition, including declassification of the full Senate report on the CIA detention program, independent comprehensive criminal investigation, and the issuing of apologies and compensation to victims of enforced disappearance, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Continued impunity is a dark chapter in the history of the United States that threatens to undermine the universally-recognized prohibition against torture and other abusive treatment, and sends the dangerous message to U.S. and foreign officials that there will be no consequences for future abuses. Other governments implicated in the CIA torture program must also be held accountable and are obligated to conduct independent investigations, hold perpetrators accountable, and provide effective remedies to victims of torture, enforced disappearance and other human rights violations.

We know from the experiences of civil society groups and survivors of torture around the world that the struggle for accountability for human rights violations and the search for truth can be a long and difficult journey. Yet the United States has much to gain from rejecting impunity, returning to the rule of law, and providing adequate redress to the dozens and dozens of people it so brutally abused.

We hope the United States will follow that path.

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  • Co-signatories

    Submitted by:

    American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
    Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
    Conectas Direitos Humanos
    Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

    Endorsed by:

    Abogadas y Abogados para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos, A. C
    Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo
    Acción Solidaria en VIH/Sida
    Advocates for U.S. Torture Prosecutions
    African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies
    Ágora Espacio Civil Paraguay
    Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School
    Amnesty International
    Appeal for Justice
    Asociación de Familiares de Presos y Desaparecidos Saharauis
    Asociación MINGA
    Asociación para la Prevención de la Tortura
    Asociación Pro derechos Humanos
    Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    Center for Constitutional Rights
    Center for Justice and Accountability
    Center for Victims of Torture
    Centre for Human Rights
    Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres, A. C.
    Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.”
    Centro de Políticas Públicas y Derechos Humanos
    Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional
    Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Género - Corporación
    Humanas
    Civilis Derechos Humanos
    Colectivo de Abogados "José Alvear Restrepo"
    Coletivo PESO/Periferia Soberana
    Comisión de Justicia y Paz
    Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos
    Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
    Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento
    Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos
    Corporación Sisma Mujer
    Defensa de Niñas y Niños- Internacional
    Diyarbakir Bar Association
    Due Process of Law Foundation
    Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
    European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
    Four Freedoms Forum & Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights
    Fundación Myrna Mack
    Fundar. Centro de Análisis e Investigación A.C
    Gillis Long Poverty Law Center - Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
    Global Justice Clinic, NYU School of Law
    Grupo de Mujeres de San Cristóbal de las Casas
    Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
    Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales
    Human Rights Institute of Columbia Law School
    Human Rights Law Network
    Human Rights Watch
    Instituto Braços - Centro de Defesa de Direitos Humanos de Sergipe
    Instituto Brasileiro de Ciências Criminais
    Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala
    Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay
    Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Sociedad
    Instituto Migrações e Direitos Humanos
    Instituto Pro Bono
    International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination
    International Commission of Jurists
    International Federation for Human Rights
    International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School
    International Human Rights Program, Boston University School of Law
    International Justice Network
    International-Lawyers
    Justice Studies Department -Northeastern Illinois University
    Kenya Human Rights Commission
    KontraS (Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence) in Indonesia
    Laboratório de Análise Política Mundial
    Legal Resources Centre
    Madres Linea Fundadora
    Meiklejohn Civil Liberities Institute
    Minority Rights Group International
    Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres
    National Lawyers Guild
    North Carolina Stop Torture Now
    Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones
    Oficina Jurídica Para la Mujer
    Partnership For Justice
    Paz y Esperanza
    PEN American Center
    Physicians for Human Rights
    Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo
    Programa de Pós Graduação em Segurança Pública e Direitos Humanos da
    Universidade Federal de Rondônia
    Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos
    Psychologists for Social Responsibility
    Quaker House
    Reprieve
    Santa Clara University School of Law, International Human Rights Clinic
    Seguridad en Democracia
    Sociedade Maranhense de Direitos Humanos
    The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
    The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance
    Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) International
    Unidad de Protección a Defensores y Defensoras de Derechos Humanos de
    Guatemala
    Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas
    Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
    US Human Rights Network
    Women’s Link Worldwide
    World Organization Against Torture

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