US: Joint Appeal to Investigate Torture

For Immediate Release


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US: Joint Appeal to Investigate Torture

Rights Groups, 111,788 Individuals Press for Special Prosecutor

WASHINGTON - Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Amnesty International called on United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a June 23, 2015 letter to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate torture and other violations of US law in connection with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s detention and interrogation program. The letter was attached to petitions signed by 111,788 concerned individuals supporting appointment of a special prosecutor.

The Senate Intelligence Committee released its summary report on the CIA’s program on December 9, 2014, but six months later, the Obama administration has taken no steps to criminally investigate the committee’s findings.

“The Justice Department has a clear responsibility to carry out a credible and comprehensive criminal investigation into the overwhelming evidence that US officials used torture in violation of US law,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The Obama administration’s continued failure to act in the face of this mountain of evidence risks sending the message that torture is a valid policy option rather than the crime that it is.”


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“The Justice Department – and the Obama administration – are effectively burying the Senate torture report,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “The Senate report contains disturbing and previously unknown details about torture, and yet the Justice Department is keeping it unread and unopened. It is effectively handing out a ‘get out of jail free’ card to all those responsible for torture. The message to every would-be torturer is that they will get away with it because the Justice Department will turn a blind eye.”

“If our laws have meaning, we can’t accept that some of our country’s most senior officials authorized criminal conduct and were never held accountable. Torture is a crime,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “We know it happened. The Senate torture report documented it in excruciating detail. It’s up to Attorney General Lynch to uphold the laws of our land and ensure that a criminal investigation of the U.S. torture program is conducted.”


Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.

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