A report destined to be ignored. My, how far we have fallen.
A United Nations panel on torture called on the United States today to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and expressed concern over reports of secret detention centers and of a practice of sending terror suspects to countries with poor human rights records.
In the report, issued by the Committee on Torture in Geneva, the panel said that the United States should clearly ban interrogation techniques like “water boarding,” in which an inmate is held under water to create the fear of drowning; sexual humiliation, and the use of dogs to induce fear. It said that detainees had died during interrogation involving improper techniques.
On Guantanamo Bay, the detention center opened to hold al Qaeda, Taliban and other terror suspects after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the panel said it was “concerned” that prisoners were held for indefinite periods without sufficient legal safeguards.
The United States “should cease to detain any person at Guantanamo Bay and close this detention facility, permit access by the detainees to the judicial process or release them as soon as possible,” the report said.
The panel reached no conclusion on the most explosive issue it considered, the charge that terror suspects had been held in a network of secret prisons in Eastern Europe that were not open to inspection by the International Red Cross.
The report criticized the refusal of American officials to comment on the charge, and said that the United States “should ensure that no one is detained in any secret detention facility under its de facto effective control.”
The panel also cited reports that the United States has been involved in “enforced disappearances,” and said that it considered American officials’ assertions “that such acts do not constitute acts of torture” to be “regrettable.”
The panel challenged the Bush administration’s practice of sending prisoners to countries where torture has been known to occur. American officials told the investigators that it only did so after receiving assurances that there would be no abuse, but the panel said that such pledges should only be accepted from countries which have good records on human rights, and after an examination of the details of an invididual case.