Against Torture and Ill-Treatment in U.S. Military and Detention Facilities: sign now

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned:

About the mounting evidence that prisoners under U.S. control have been illegally abducted, mistreated during removal flights, shackled for long periods of time, stripped naked in cold cells, exposed to continuous loud music, deprived of sleep, isolated for long periods, kept hooded, disoriented, their phobias exploited, dunked under water, force fed and kept in painful stress positions;

That persons have been kept in secret detention facilities incommunicado, without access to lawyers or even the International Committee of the Red Cross, and are being held for long periods (now years) without any independent judicial review process;

That the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and other Degrading Treatment and other UN experts have been denied access to the U.S. Detention Facility at Guantanamo to investigate and meet in private with the prisoners there;

That the President of the United States - when signing into law the McCain anti-torture bill - declared that the he would view limits on interrogation in the context of his executive powers to protect national security, thereby effectively giving notice that he is not bound by the legislation; and

About the deletion in the latest U.S. Army field manuals of any reference to the Geneva Conventions’ explicit provisions prohibiting torture or humiliating and degrading treatment.

We therefore:

Demand the immediate cessation of the practice known as “extraordinary rendition” whereby detainees are sent to countries known to torture prisoners. This is in violation of several International Conventions, which the U.S. has signed and ratified.
(The U.S. has signed and ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatments or Punishment, and all the Geneva War Conventions.);

Urge the U.S. Congress to establish an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate broadly the treatment of all detainees held by the U.S. military and intelligence services in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo, and disclose any secret detention facility under the U.S. government’s de facto control and review the authority under which they have been established;

Urge the U.S. to promptly release all detainees for whom no lawful basis exists for their detention under international law or prosecute them in accordance with international law. No detainee can be held in indefinite arbitrary detention. The basis for every detainee’s detention should be reviewed every six months;

Urge the closure of the Guantanamo Detention Facility and either the release of all prisoners held there or that they be put on trial, but – as recommended by the UN Committee Against Torture - making sure none are turned over to countries where they may be tortured;

Demand that President George W. Bush and other senior U.S. officials publicly commit to take all necessary action to investigate, prosecute and punish all those responsible for abuses, including persons at the highest levels;

Recommend that all military and intelligence personnel involved in the detention or interrogation of prisoners of war, detained civilians or any other detainees should receive clear guidelines and training on allowable interrogation techniques, which comply with international obligations. Personnel should understand that they have the right and duty to refuse orders to commit torture or other mistreatment against persons in custody. The U.S. military should revise interrogation rules and manuals to ensure they conform to international human rights and humanitarian law. As private contractors cannot be held fully accountable, they should not be used as interrogators;

Recommend that the U.S. ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on Torture, which would permit regular visits by independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

Urge the Democratic leadership to take a more pro-active, critical position on this issue, as the perception that the U.S. condones ill treatment of prisoners harms the image of America abroad and can have negative consequences for U.S. persons captured during conflicts.

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Troy BondBy:
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U.S. Senate and House of Representatives

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