William Fisher | Inter Press Service
NEW YORK, Apr 29 (IPS) – A coalition of 19 human rights, faith-based and justice organisations is calling on President Barack Obama to investigate torture they charge was sanctioned by the administration of former President George W. Bush.
The group, led by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), is proposing both a special prosecutor and an “independent, non-partisan commission to examine and report publicly on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in the period since September 11, 2001.”
The campaign’s call for accountability comes just days after the release of the Senate Armed Services Committee report on interrogation and torture and the Justice Department legal memos sanctioning torture and inhumane treatment.
Rev. Richard Killmer, executive director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, told IPS, “NRCAT supports both the establishment of an independent, non-partisan commission of inquiry to investigate the use of torture and a Department of Justice investigation for criminal culpability of those who authorised or carried out acts of torture. Each process is important and can be pursued independently.”
He added, “A commission will help us understand how the illegal interrogation policies came into effect and how they were implemented so that we can ensure that safeguards are in place to prevent future administrations from following the same path.”
“A criminal investigation will send the clear message that government officials cannot violate laws against torture without facing serious criminal sanctions. If we hope to end the practice of torture by agents of the United States once and for all, we must pursue both avenues.”
The coalition proposes a commission, “comparable in stature to the 9/11 commission,” to “look into the facts and circumstances of such abuses, report on lessons learned and recommend measures that would prevent any future abuses.”
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