Last week, Human Rights USA (HRUSA)and the International Human Rights Clinic at Washington College of Law,American University released their much-awaited report, “Indefensible: A Reference for Prosecuting Torture and Other Felonies.” With the goal of demonstrating that criminal accountabilityfor torture is possible, the report applies a legal framework to the voluminousamount of evidence which shows that high-ranking government officialsauthorized torture and other cruelty when detaining and interrogating detaineescaptured after September 11th.
The report provides clear andconcise legal analysis on the torture debate. From the authority to prosecutegovernment officials, to the proof of abuses at the highest levels, to violationsof U.S. and International law, it truly is an encyclopedic “reference” in thefight for accountability.
The report was launched at awell-attended presentation and panel discussion at Washington College of Law inWashington DC. The event showcased a panel of speakers including Benjamin G. Davis ofthe University of Toledo College of Law, David M. Crane of SyracuseUniversity College of Law, John Sifton of HumanRights Watch, Richard J. Wilson of AUCollege of Law, and Allison M. Lefrak ofHRUSA. Each of the panelists brought their own unique experience to bear on theissues of torture and accountability.
Professor Davis outlined the variousmechanisms by which accountability might be achieved and made clear that civilsociety must also play a continuing role in both accountability and preventionof further abuse: “We have to set down amarker that inside America you don’t torture, and outside America you don’ttorture.
Professor Wilson, thoughexpressing that the “odds of prosecution are a long shot,” stressed that up tothis point in the history of the torture debates, there “has only been onestory.” The new report gives voice tothe other story—that torture is immoral and illegal. All panelists made clear that the Americanpeople need to take a public stand and loudly voice their opposition to torture.
PHR stands proudly with theauthors of this important report in hopes that it will form the foundation ofmany future efforts at calling to task those who participated in the US regimeof torture. “Justified” torture stands as both a moral and legal travesty, andallowing its use makes a mockery of us all.