October 16 – Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) called on Attorney General-Designate Michael Mukasey to pledge that he will order the Department of Justice to release and rescind the 2005 Office of Legal Counsel memos authorizing abusive interrogation techniques. Press reports allege that the memos allow US personnel, especially the CIA, to use techniques that potentially violate the War Crimes Act and cause serious mental and physical harm, according to Leave No Marks: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality, a report recently released by PHR and Human Rights First.
Leave No Marks combines medical and legal expertise to comprehensively examine ten techniques widely reported to have been authorized for use in the CIA's secret interrogation program. It shows that the authorization of these enhanced interrogation techniques, whether practiced alone or in combination, may constitute torture and/or cruel and inhuman treatment and consequently place interrogators at serious legal risk of prosecution for war crimes and other violations. US law requires an assessment of the physical and mental impact of an interrogation method to determine its legality. The report concludes that each of the ten tactics is likely to violate US laws, including the War Crimes Act, the US Torture Act, and the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005.
"In his confirmation hearings today, Judge Mukasey must assure the Senate that he is fully committed to restoring the Justice Department’s role in enforcing anti-torture law. If confirmed, he must immediately rescind the 2005 Justice Department secret memos that allow the use of illegal and abusive interrogation techniques that are mentally and physically harmful and may constitute war crimes," stated Frank Donaghue, Chief Executive Officer of PHR. "As the nation's chief law enforcement officer, the next Attorney General should instruct the Office of Legal Counsel to draft a new opinion that outlaws tactics known to constitute torture."
Additionally, PHR also called on CIA Director General Michael Hayden to end his ongoing investigation of the CIA's Office of the Inspector General (IG). CIA's IG is reportedly nearing conclusion on several investigations into issues that include the alleged torture and abuse of detainees in the CIA's "Black Sites" program.
"The independence of the CIA's Inspector General must be preserved, especially when it comes to investigations of the alleged torture and abuse of individuals in its custody," said Donaghue. "The Senate Intelligence Committee must make sure that there is no intimidation directed toward those who are ensuring that perpetrators of abuse are held to account and that the law is enforced."
PHR reiterated its call for Congress to fully ban the following techniques: mock executions; waterboarding; other forms of simulated drowning or suffocation; sexual humiliation; rape; cultural humiliation; religious humiliation; exploitation of phobias or psychopathology; induced hypothermia; use of psychotropic drugs or use of other mind-altering substances for the purposes of eliciting information; hooding; forced nakedness; stress positions; use of dogs to threaten or intimidate; physical assault including beating,slapping and shaking; exposure to extremes of heat and cold; prolonged isolation; sensory deprivation; sensory bombardment (noise and light);violent shaking; sleep deprivation; and threatened use of these techniques or other harm to the detainee and/or to the detainee's family.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) mobilizes the health professions to advance the health and dignity of all people by protecting human rights. As a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, PHR shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.
- Leave No Marks
- Campaign Against Torture