UN expert calls for prosecution of CIA officers

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, December 10, 2014
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Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (C), a Democrat from California, speaks to reporters about the committee's report on CIA interrogations at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, December 9, 2014. [Xinhua photo]

A United Nations special rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights released a statement on Tuesday, concerning the publication of the summary of the Feinstein report on crimes committed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States.

"I welcome the belated publication of the summary report by the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence into the crimes of torture and enforced disappearance of terrorist suspects by the Bush-era CIA. It has taken four years since the report was finalised to reach this point. The Administration is to be commended for resisting domestic pressure to suppress these important findings," Ben Emmerson said.

Emmerson, from United Kingdom, is the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

He continued, "The summary of the Feinstein report which was released this afternoon confirms what the international community has long believed - that there was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration, which allowed to commit systematic crimes and gross violations of international human rights law."

Emmerson said it is time to take action now, "The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today's report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes. " He pointed out that as a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice."

He argued it is no defence for a public official to claim that they were acting on superior orders, "CIA officers who physically committed acts of torture therefore bear individual criminal responsibility for their conduct, and cannot hide behind the authorisation they were given by their superiors.

"However, the heaviest penalties should be reserved for those most seriously implicated in the planning and purported authorisation of these crimes. Former Bush Administration officials who have admitted their involvement in the programme should also face criminal prosecution for their acts."

The CIA repeatedly misled the public, Congress and the White House about its aggressive questioning and torture on detainees after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, according to a U.S. Senate report released Tuesday.

The CIA downplayed the brutality of the interrogations and exaggerated the usefulness of the information it gathered, including its role in setting in motion the U.S. raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, said the Senate Intelligence Committee report.

The 6,000-page report also found that the "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" program escaped effective scrutiny by outsiders long after its inception in 2002, with CIA records showing then President George W. Bush was never fully briefed by the agency on torturous interrogation techniques until 2006.

The report contained details about waterboarding, sexual threats and other controversial methods to obtain information, finding those techniques were largely ineffective and poorly managed.

Some of the detainees were kept awake for up to 180 hours, or more than seven days, usually in standing or stress positions. Interrogators also placed the interrogations above medical needs, such as treating bullet wounds, the report said. Some detainees were also placed in ice water "baths".

"President Obama made it clear more than five years ago that the US Government recognizes the use of waterboarding as torture," Emmerson said, "There is therefore no excuse for shielding the perpetrators from justice any longer. The US Attorney General is under a legal duty to bring criminal charges against those responsible."

He added, "Torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction. The perpetrators may be prosecuted by any other country they may travel to. However, the primary responsibility for bringing them to justice rests with the US Department of Justice and the Attorney General."

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