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Human Rights Groups Release Torture Accountability Report

Christopher Morgan-Riess on February 1, 2012

Last week, Human Rights USA (HRUSA) and the International Human Rights Clinic at Washington College of Law, American University released their much-awaited report, “Indefensible: A Reference for Prosecuting Torture and Other Felonies.”  With the goal of demonstrating that criminal accountability for torture is possible, the report applies a legal framework to the voluminous amount of evidence which shows that high-ranking government officials authorized torture and other cruelty when detaining and interrogating detainees captured after September 11th.

The report provides clear and concise legal analysis on the torture debate. From the authority to prosecute government officials, to the proof of abuses at the highest levels, to violations of U.S. and International law, it truly is an encyclopedic “reference” in the fight for accountability.

The report was launched at a well-attended presentation and panel discussion at Washington College of Law in Washington DC. The event showcased a panel of speakers including Benjamin G. Davis of the University of Toledo College of Law, David M. Crane of Syracuse University College of Law, John Sifton of Human Rights Watch, Richard J. Wilson of AU College of Law, and Allison M. Lefrak of HRUSA. Each of the panelists brought their own unique experience to bear on the issues of torture and accountability. 

Professor Davis outlined the various mechanisms by which accountability might be achieved and made clear that civil society must also play a continuing role in both accountability and prevention of further abuse:  “We have to set down a marker that inside America you don’t torture, and outside America you don’t torture.

Professor Wilson, though expressing that the “odds of prosecution are a long shot,” stressed that up to this point in the history of the torture debates, there “has only been one story.”  The new report gives voice to the other story—that torture is immoral and illegal.  All panelists made clear that the American people need to take a public stand and loudly voice their opposition to torture.   

PHR stands proudly with the authors of this important report in hopes that it will form the foundation of many future efforts at calling to task those who participated in the US regime of torture. “Justified” torture stands as both a moral and legal travesty, and allowing its use makes a mockery of us all.     

Places: United States