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Report No. 273

(ii) United States of America

2.23 In 1992 the United States became a party to the ICCPR, some provisions of which may be considered to have wider application than those of the CAT. The initial report of the United States under the Covenant, which provides general information related to compliance with and implementation of obligations under the Covenant, was submitted to the Human Rights Committee in July 1994.30

2.24 Torture is prohibited throughout the United States. It is categorically denounced as a matter of policy and as a tool of State authority. Every act constituting torture under the Convention constitutes a criminal offence under the law of the United States. No official of the Government, federal, state or local, civilian or military, is authorised to commit or to instruct anyone else to commit torture.

Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form. No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture. United States law contains no provision permitting otherwise prohibited acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be employed on grounds of exigent circumstances (for example, during a "state of public emergency") or on orders from a superior officer or public authority, and the protective mechanisms of an independent judiciary are not subject to suspension.31

2.25 In 1994 the United States Congress enacted important legislation which authorises the Attorney-General to institute civil law suits to obtain remedies for patterns or practices of misconduct by law enforcement agencies and agencies responsible for the incarceration of juveniles. The Department of Justice is actively enforcing this statute, as well as older laws that permit criminal prosecution of law enforcement and correctional officers who wilfully deprive individuals of their constitutional rights, and statutes that enable the Department of Justice to obtain civil relief for abusive conditions in state prisons and local jails.32

2.26 The United States Administration came under widespread criticism against detention of alleged leaders and members of suspected terrorist organizations in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in the year 2001, post 9/11 terrorist attack. There were allegations of violation of human rights. The Supreme Court of the United States had consistently held that the detainees of Guantanamo had a statutory right to petition the federal courts for habeas corpus review and that the courts had jurisdiction to hear those detainees' petitions.33

2.27 In the Periodic Report of the United States of America to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (Third, Fourth, and Fifth Reports)34 submitted on 12 August 2013, the US Government quoted its former President Bush as saying in 2006 that "a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war [were] held and questioned outside the United States, in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency."

The Report further said "he then announced that 14 individuals were being transferred from Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) custody to DoD custody at Guantanamo." However, the Report negated existence of 'any secret detention facilities'.



Implementation of United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment through Legislation Back




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