The United Nations special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights called for the prosecution of CIA officers and other government officials after the release of a report detailing enhanced interrogation techniques used against a handful of terror suspects.
Ben Emmerson, a British barrister with experience on the tribunals for the Rwanda and Khmer Rouge genocides, said in a statement that he welcomed the “belated publication” of the report, issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee days before Democrats hand over the gavels of committee chairmanships over to Republicans.
“It has taken four years since the report was finalised to reach this point. The Administration is to be commended for resisting domestic pressure to suppress these important findings,” Emmerson said, noting that in 2013 he called for the report to made public in full “without excessive and unnecessary redactions.”
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Emmerson said “it is now time to take action.”
“The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes,” he said. “The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”
He added that the CIA officers involved in the interrogations who “physically committed acts of torture therefore bear individual criminal responsibility for their conduct, and cannot hide behind the authorisation they were given by their superiors.”
“However, the heaviest penalties should be reserved for those most seriously implicated in the planning and purported authorisation of these crimes. Former Bush Administration officials who have admitted their involvement in the program should also face criminal prosecution for their acts.”
Emmerson said the first step needs to be Eric Holder making some arrests.
“President Obama made it clear more than five years ago that the US Government recognizes the use of waterboarding as torture. There is therefore no excuse for shielding the perpetrators from justice any longer. The US Attorney General is under a legal duty to bring criminal charges against those responsible,” the rapporteur continued.
“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.”