[JURIST] The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights [advocacy website] sent a letter to US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld Tuesday expressing "grave concerns" over allegations of US mistreatment of security detainees:
We urge you to address these issues personally and publicly by making clear the unambiguous US prohibition against all forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. As you know, these practices are strictly prohibited under international laws, to which the United States is a party, including the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Torture Convention) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The use of torture also violates a 1994 U.S. federal law that explicitly provides penalties of fines and up to 20 years imprisonment for acts of torture committed by U.S. officials outside of the U.S. (18 U.S.C. § 2340 A). As you also know, many practices that do not constitute "torture" are still strictly prohibited as "other acts of cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" under article 16 of the Torture Convention. When the Senate ratified this treaty it construed this language as applying standards that are consistent with U.S. domestic legal principles.Read the full text of the letter [PDF], which follows the deaths of several prisoners while in US custody, several reported suicide attempts by detainees, and similar expressions of concern by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the New York-based monitoring group Human Rights Watch previously mentioned in JURIST's Paper Chase.