Amnesty International USA
Torture is immoral, illegal, and counterproductive. Torture undermines the moral and legal principles on
which society is based. Moral authority and the ability to pressure allies are lost when world leaders resort to torture,
cruel, inhuman and degrading practices. As a means of interrogation, torture often results in false statements, and instills
resentment and anger in the victims, their families, friends, and community, and generates embittered opponents. This hostility
can translate into devastating consequences for those they consider enemies.
Since its founding, the United States has cherished the notion that individuals have a right to be free
from oppression and torture, and that certain human rights are unalienable. The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution
prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment," extends "the right of the people to be secure in their person," and prevents self-incrimination
partly to ensure against coerced extraction of confessions. Among the international conventions the US has ratified
that prohibit torture are the Geneva Conventions, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International
Convention Against Torture. The US ratified the International Convention Against Torture at the urging of President George
H.W. Bush, who made it clear that, "The United States must continue its vigorous efforts to bring the practice of torture
an other gross abuses of human rights to an end wherever they occur." The US reaffirmed these ideals in its report to the
UN Committee Against Torture.
Statements made by US officials suggesting that that the US Government condones the mistreatment
and possibly even the torture of prisoners and detainees gravely concerns Amnesty International. These allegations
raise the possibility of jeopardizing moral leadership, of serious violation of international law, and of demonstrating disregard
for human dignity that may place Americans in greater risk. Furthermore, the US Government has stated that approximately
3,000 suspected al-Qaeda members have been detained worldwide since September 11, 2001. Many are believed to be held in nations
known to employ torture. Over 6oo are being held at U.S. military facilities at Guantanamo. The treatment of all
detainees is a concern for Amnesty International, as well as the whereabouts of those being held abroad. Torture serves no
purpose but to harm human beings and create new enemies.
Amnesty International has campaigned against the use of torture for over forty years and has documented
the use of torture in more than 150 countries. The organization has documented a continuing decline in torture, down to 73%
of countries surveyed in 2002, compared with 90% in the 2000 report entitled Torture Worldwide: An Affront to Human Dignity.
The two-year decline coincided with AI's international campaign against torture. The organization is concerned that continued
progress is threatened because of the current geo-political climate.
As a world leader, silence or indifference from the United States will be perceived as an indication
that this country condones torture and other egregious abuses. The US must make clear that torture is an affront to human
dignity that can never be justified and must be opposed in every country of the world. Otherwise, those who wage
war on human rights will have won the battle against freedom.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA RECOMMENDS THAT
- President Bush and Congress investigate recent allegations of torture and ensure that anyone responsible for ordering
or carrying out torture is prosecuted and punished according to US and international law.
- The US Government report on the whereabouts and conditions of detainees held in US custody.
- Member of Congress place a statement on the Congressional Record expressing their opposition to torture and urging President
Bush to make an unequivocal declaration that torture is never acceptable, that it is counterproductive, and it is against
U.S. and international law.