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9th December, 2005
15.30 IST (+05.30 GMT)

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HRW: Fifteen Questions for the U.S. Government


On December 7, 2005, Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice stated: “As a matter of U.S. policy, the United States obligations under the CAT [Convention against Torture], which prohibits, of course, cruel and inhumane and degrading treatment, those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United States…” To clarify the content and implications of this policy, the U.S. government should answer the following questions:

1. Does the prohibition on the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment apply to all U.S. civilian and military personnel—regardless of their agency affiliation—and all U.S.-government contractors wherever they are? Are there any exceptions? 

2. Does the prohibition apply regardless of the status or nationality of the detainee, i.e. regardless of whether the detainee is a non-U.S. citizen, terrorist suspect, enemy combatant, or high-ranking member of Al-Qaeda? Are there any exceptions? 

3. In light of the policy, will the White House drop its objection to the McCain Amendment to the 2006 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill? Will it stop seeking an exemption for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)? 

4. Under the policy, is waterboarding prohibited? In waterboarding, the prisoner is tied head-down on an inclined board, cellophane or a cloth is wrapped over his face, and water is poured over him. The technique produces an overwhelming and agonizing sensation of drowning. 

5. Which of the following other techniques reportedly used by the CIA on terrorist suspects are also prohibited under the announced policy? 

Shaking the prisoner forcefully
Open handed slaps on the face
Hard open-handed slaps to the stomach
Forcing handcuffed and shackled prisoners to remain standing for prolonged period of time, e.g., for forty hours.
Subjecting naked prisoners to extremely cold cells (e.g., 50 degrees) and dousing them with cold water

6. Are there any exceptions to the policy against use of CID? 

7. In light of the policy, what is the purpose of forcibly disappearing terrorist suspects and holding them in secret prisons? 

8. Will the United States publicly identify the detainees it has secretly held in Europe and identify their current place(s) of detention? Will it identify any other detainees whom it is holding or has held secretly and incommunicado in a secret place of detention? 

9. Will the United States permit the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all security detainees held by the United States to verify that they are not being subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading (CID) treatment? 

10. Does the United States agree that any information obtained through interrogations that utilized CID will not be introduced in any legal proceedings against either the victim of the CID or anyone else? 

11. Will the United States render detainees to countries known to employ CID as part of their interrogation practices? 

12. If the United States becomes aware that terrorist suspects it has rendered to another country are being subjected to CID, will it intervene to stop the abuse? 

13. Does the policy reflect a legal determination by the U.S. government that the Convention against Torture applies outside the territorial reach of the United States? 

14. Does the policy reflect a legal determination by the U.S. government that the Convention against Torture prevents the infliction of CID on non-U.S. citizens outside the United States? 

15. What redress does the United States intend to offer to people who were subjected to CID? 

Source: Human Rights Watch

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