Call for Presidential Commission on Detention, Treatment and Transfer of Detainees

PHR has joined a group of preeminent experts and NGOs calling for a non-partisan commission to investigate the detention, treatment and transfer of detainees following the attacks of September 11th, 2001. As PHR’s repeated calls for a commission have reiterated, only a thorough inquiry can ensure that the clear, legal prohibition against torture is upheld. The American people and the victims of abuse deserve to know the full nature of the detainee treatment policies implemented by the Bush Administration.

The statement was signed by: Juan E. Mendez, President of the International Center for Transitional Justice; Thomas Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; Judge William Sessions, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Major General Antonio M. Taguba, USA (Ret.); and Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. In addition, 18 leading human rights organizations have endorsed the statement.Here is the full statement and list of signers:

Statement on Commission Relating to Detention, Treatment, and Transfer of Detainees

We urge President Obama to appoint a non-partisan commission of distinguished Americans to examine, and provide a comprehensive report on, policies and actions related to the detention, treatment, and transfer of detainees after 9/11 and the consequences of those actions, and to make recommendations for future policy in this area. We believe all members of the commission must have reputations for putting the truth and the respect for our nation's founding principles ahead of any partisan advantage. Members should be persons of irreproachable integrity, credibility, and independence. Leading academics, retired judges and government officials, retired military officers and intelligence officials and human rights experts are examples of the types of profiles that should be sought. The President should solicit recommendations from the majority and minority leaders in both houses in the process of choosing commission members.

Juan E. Mendez, President, the International Center for Transitional Justice; Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the UN on the Prevention of Genocide, 2004-2007; Commissioner, 2000-2003, and President, 2002, of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States

Thomas Pickering, Vice Chairman, Hills & Co., Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, 1996-2000Judge William Sessions, Partner, Holland and Knight LLP, Director of the FBI, 1987-1993, Judge, United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, 1974-1987

Major General Antonio M. Taguba, USA (Retired)

Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ(Affiliations for Identification Only)

The following organizations have also endorsed the statement:

Amnesty International USA

The Brennan Center for Justice

The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University, School of Law

The Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, University of California, Davis

The Center for Victims of Torture

The Constitution Project

The Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley

Human Rights First

Human Rights Watch

The International Center for Transitional Justice

The International Justice Network

The Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs

The National Institute of Military Justice

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture

The Open Society Institute

Physicians for Human Rights

The Rutherford Institute

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