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U.N. grills U.S. on torture ban« Thread Started on May 5, 20

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U.N. grills U.S. on torture ban« Thread Started on May 5, 20

Postby admin » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:36 am

U.N. grills U.S. on torture ban« Thread Started on May 5, 2006, 7:41am » --------------------------------------------------------------------------------U.N. grills U.S. on torture banFriday, May 5, 2006 Posted: 1214 GMT (2014 HKT) read source: ... htmlGENEVA, Switzerland (AP) -- The U.N. was grilling the United States on its compliance with the global ban on torture Friday for the first time since Washington declared war on terrorists, focusing on allegations of secret CIA prisons and flights transferring suspects for possible torture in other countries.The U.N. Committee Against Torture, the global body's watchdog for a 22-year-old treaty forbidding prisoner abuse, was asking U.S. officials about a series of issues ranging from Washington's interpretation of the absolute ban on torture to its interrogation methods in prisons such as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.U.S. State Department lawyer, John B. Bellinger III, who was leading the U.S. delegation at the hearing, defended Washington's commitment to its international obligations and said it would try to answer the committees questions.However, he said the delegation may not be able to answer all questions because much of the information relates to intelligence activities."We welcome this dialogue and we're committed to answering your questions," Bellinger told the committee in his opening address. "Torture is clearly and categorically prohibited under both human rights treaties and the law of armed conflict."Bellinger's 25-member team for the hearings includes officials from the defense, justice and homeland security departments."While I am acutely aware of the innumerable allegations ... about various U.S. actions, I would ask you not to believe every allegation that you've heard. Allegations about U.S. military or intelligence activities have become so hyperbolic as to be absurd," Bellinger said.U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles Stimson said a total of 120 detainees had died in Iraq and Afghanistan. No detainees died at Guantanamo Bay, he said.He said 29 of those deaths involved suspected abuse or other violations of law and policy."In these cases, these alleged violations were properly investigated and appropriate action taken," he said.He said most of the detainee deaths were caused by natural causes, battlefield injuries or attacks by other detainees.The United States, like the 140 other nations that have signed the Convention Against Torture, must submit reports to the committee to show it is applying the rules.The Geneva-based committee, a panel of 10 independent experts who meet twice a year, said the legal interpretation of torture in U.S. Department of Justice memorandums in 2002 and 2004 "seems to be much more restrictive than previous United Nations standards."The committee is demanding the U.S. explain why it established secret prisons, what rules and methods of interrogation it employs, and whether U.S. President George W. Bush's administration assumes responsibility for alleged acts of torture committed by American agents outside U.S. territory.U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Barry Lowenkron said the abusive acts against detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison "sickened the American people -- just as they appalled people around the world. They were inexcusable, they were indefensible."The U.S. conducted more than 600 criminal investigations into allegations of mistreatment and more than 250 people had been held accountable for abusing detainees, Lowenkron said. Investigations and charges are ongoing, he said.Criticism by the U.N. panel brings no penalties beyond international scrutiny. The committee is expected to issue conclusions when it concludes its session May 19.In an 87-page report filed to the committee in January -- four years behind schedule -- Washington insisted it is "unequivocally opposed" to torture.Washington neither confirms nor denies allegations of secret prisons on grounds that it refuses to comment on intelligence matters.But the committee cautioned that enforced disappearances of suspects "can be considered a form of torture" and asked for details on the U.S. policy of "Extraordinary Rendition," a euphemism for transporting suspects to third party countries where they could face torture.U.S. officials have acknowledged flying up to 150 of the most serious terror suspects from one country to another, but said they receive "diplomatic assurances" from authorities that they won't use torture on the detainees they receive.But rights groups say some have been tortured anyway and that the U.S. is violating the treaty in other ways
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