Today in Geneva, the United Nations Committee against Torture released concluding observations from its recent review of the United States. The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) issued the following statement in response to the observations:
“The concluding observations on U.S. national security policies reached by the Committee against Torture hit the nail on the head,” said CVT Senior Policy Counsel Melina Milazzo, who attended the U.S. review. “The observations rightly correspond to U.S. obligations under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The U.S. government should take immediate steps to ensure full compliance with its obligations under the Convention Against Torture – a treaty championed by the United States with bi-partisan support decades ago.”
“In particular, the U.S. should heed the Committee’s recommendations to release the CIA Torture report, amend Appendix M of the Army Field Manual, end the indefinite detention without charge or trial of men at the Guantanamo Bay prison, stop the force-feeding of mentally competent hunger striking detainees, and prevent acts of torture in territories under its ‘effective’ control, ” said Milazzo.
“The U.S. government tragically fell short of the law – and America’s values and ideals – when it authorized and engaged in torture and cruelty in its counterterrorism operations post-9/11,” said Milazzo. “The Committee lays out concrete steps the U.S. must take to put it back on firm legal footing with the Convention. It is high time to fully account for its abuses, undo some of the damage, and prevent these grave mistakes from happening again.”
“Finally, the Committee is correct to commend the U.S. for its commitment to the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. But more needs to be done for those who have been tortured by the U.S. government as well as for survivors of torture living within its borders,” said Milazzo. “The right to rehabilitation belongs to every survivor of torture, as the Committee recommends. The U.S. should increase domestic funding for U.S. based torture treatment centers. This is critical in order to meet the demand of up to 1 million survivors of torture living in the U.S. and additional refugees and asylum seekers continuing to arrive from countries in which the practice of torture is pervasive. The U.S. should also increase its own contribution to the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture and use its leverage to encourage peer countries to increase their contributions to the Fund.”
As a party to the Convention Against Torture, the U.S. government is required to be periodically reviewed by the Committee against Torture. President Reagan submitted the Convention Against Torture to the U.S. Senate in 1988 and it was ratified in 1994.
The Center for Victims of Torture is a nonprofit headquartered in St. Paul, MN with an office in Washington, D.C. and healing initiatives in Africa and the Middle East. Visit www.cvt.org.