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On US Torture, Does Ban Agree CAT Requires Prosecution, or Cat Has His Tongue?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 11 -- After the much anticipated US torture report was released on the morning of December 9, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had no direct comment.

  Now, does Ban agree that the UN Convention Against Torture, UNCAT, requires prosecution? Or has the cat got his tongue?

   At the December 9 UN noon briefing in New York Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric for a comment from Ban Ki-moon, which was expected.

But Dujarric said that there was no comment, that the UN was following it. Video here, and embedded below.

  Fully 24 hours later, at the December 10 noon briefing, Dujarric read out a statement from Geneva by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid.

  Inner City Press asked Dujarric why Ban hadn't commented in his own name. He is commenting through me, Dujarric replied, and stands with Prince Zeid's comments.
  Inner City Press asked if Ban stands with the comments of UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in combating terrorism Ben Emmerson, that there should be prosecutions. Apparently not -- the answer was UNclear.  Video here.

  Now on December 11, the UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez has said

the example set by the United States on the use of torture has been a big draw-back in the fight against such practice in many other countries throughout the world... I travel to parts of the world in my capacity of UN Special Rapporteur on torture and I can attest to the fact that many states either implicitly or explicitly tell you: ‘Why look at us? If the US tortures, why can’t we do it?’ We have lost a little bit of the moral high ground, but it can be regained and it should be regained.”

The publication of the summary of the report, Mendez said, is but “a first step in the direction of fulfilling other US obligations under Convention against Torture, namely to combat impunity and ensure accountability, by investigating and prosecuting those responsible... In the past, I have engaged the US Government on a number of cases referenced in the CIA report and I will carefully study the replies I have received and the facts now revealed in this report. There is no doubt that ‘torture programs right after 9/11 have made the matter of terrorism worse’ and the torture that has taken place has been a breeding ground for more terrorism.”

   So does Ban Ki-moon agree that CAT now requires prosecutions? Or has the cat got his tongue? Watch this site.

The UN Security Council churned on -- UN Peacekeeping chief refused to answer a simple Inner City Press question as he left the Council, here -- even with some of the countries which hosted “black sites” for torture members of the Council.

An Amnesty International representative said that countries that are members of the International Criminal Court, which hosted such sites, could be acted against by the Court. UN expert Ben Emmerson chimed in, calling for prosecutions:

the summary of the Feinstein report which was released this afternoon confirms what the international community has long believed - that there was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration, which allowed to commit systematic crimes and gross violations of international human rights law.. The identities of the perpetrators, and many other details, have been redacted in the published summary report but are known to the Select Committee and to those who provided the Committee with information on the program... Torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction. The perpetrators may be prosecuted by any other country they may travel to. However, the primary responsibility for bringing them to justice rests with the US Department of Justice and the Attorney General.”

But still, from Ban Ki-moon, silence. Watch this site.


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