April 21, 2013
A report released by an indepented task force in the US confirms that the interrogation and treatment of many detainees in US custody since 9/11 amounted to torture.
The task force was convened by the Constitution Project, a non-profit organisation that brings together policy experts and legal practitioners from all political colours to find consensus-based solutions to legal problems in the United States.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) applauds the publication of this report, which supports PHR’s own conclusions on this subject. “PHR has long contended that interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and stress positions did in fact constitute torture,” said Donna McKay, PHR’s executive director. “We are gratified that a highly respected bipartisan panel led by two former members of Congress uniformly concurs. Their report should put to rest any lingering doubt about the severity of the abuse that took place at Guantánamo Bay and other US detention facilities.”
The report also highlights PHR’s position that physicians and other health professionals who participated in interrogations violated their professional ethics. The task force strongly condemns the force-feeding of detainees on hunger strike, a practice that still takes place at Guantanomo Bay.
As a signatory to the international Convention Against Torture (CAT), the United States is obligated to promptly investigate allegations of torture, hold perpetrators accountable, and make reparations to torture victims. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has declined to do so. “The time is long overdue for President Obama to recognize that, unless past abuses are fully investigated and punished, the likelihood of similar abuses sometime in the future remains high,” McKay said.