Detainees in the compliant camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Photo by Larisa Epatko

UN condemns U.S. over torture, immigrant detainment and police malpractice

The United Nations criticized the United States over issues of torture, police malpractice and immigrant detention in a report issued today.

After reviewing the recent use of history of torture in the United States, the United Nations Committee Against Torture expressed concern that the United States has not gone far enough in the “absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment” of detainees, held both domestically and abroad within detention centers at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Bagram, Afghanistan. The committee chastised the use of “indefinite detention without charge or trial” as well as “prolonged mental harm” on detainees because it is more difficult to monitor and measure than physical abuse and “undermines” international agreements and standards about how nations are suppose to hold prisoners.

Furthermore, the committee demanded more transparency over the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of extraordinary rendition, secret detainment and enhanced interrogation techniques between 2001 and 2008 that “involved numerous human rights violations, including torture, ill-treatment and enforced disappearance of persons suspected of involvement in terrorism-related crimes” and had remained largely classified.

The report also called into question the expanded use of “prison-like detention facilities, county jails and private prisons” for undocumented immigrants, saying that intake procedures often fail people who enter the United States seeking asylum. The committee recommended greater oversight and review over existing practices as well as working with communities to develop options for immigration detention, along with “progressively eliminating (family detention) completely.”

Within the U.S. prison system, the committee said it was seriously concerned over incidents of sexual violence among inmates and prison staff, police brutality and the use of Tasers.

The American Civil Liberties Union echoed the United Nations’ condemnation of torture.

“The Obama administration needs to match its rhetoric with actions by supporting full accountability for torture,” said American Civil Liberties Union Human Rights Program Director Jamil Dakwar in a statement released today.