New call from national and international rights groups on the need to ensure accountability for the U.S. CIA Torture Program

Press Release

25 June 2015

29th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – June 15 - July 3, 2015

 Item 4 – Interactive Dialogue

 Last December, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the summary, findings and conclusions of its four-year investigation into the Detention and Interrogation Program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Since then, the international human rights community has reiterated the call for full transparency about and accountability for this unlawful program, in which systematic human rights violations, including the crimes under international law of torture and enforced disappearance were committed. Last March, more than 20 human rights groups called on the Council to take action and demand that the United States fulfill its international human rights obligations on truth, accountability and remedy, including by appointing a special prosecutor to conduct a comprehensive and credible criminal investigation of alleged serious crimes described in the report and to establish a special fund to compensate victims.

 Last month, during the United States’ UPR session, a significant number of Member-States joined civil society’s call and raised the issue of accountability and reparations for the use of torture and other human rights violations in the context of U.S. counter-terrorism policies and practices.

 They also emphasized the need to end indefinite detention and close the Guantánamo detention facility, one of the remaining examples of the unlawful actions taken in the name of national security since the attacks of 11 September 2001. Delivering justice for the victims and ending indefinite detention in Guantánamo are both issues that still require more decisive and urgent action from the Obama administration.

 On 26 June, the world will mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The U.S. government was a strong supporter of the adoption of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), which is commemorated every year on this day. The United States is also a generous contributor to the U.N. Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. But the U.S.’s failure to hold accountable those responsible for the CIA program of torture and enforced disappearance, to ensure the victims’ rights to truth and reparations, and to take other actions to ensure non-repetition of these heinous crimes leaves the U.S. in violation of its own obligations under UNCAT and other international instruments and is a serious blow to the international human rights system, in general, and to the global effort to eradicate torture and enforced disappearance, in particular.

 During its next session, the Council will adopt the Working Group report on the U.S. UPR. We call on the Council to send a strong message against impunity for torture and enforced disappearances and demand that the United States take measures to meet the full spectrum of its obligations under international law to ensure accountability, transparency, reparations and non-repetition, including declassification of the full Senate report on the CIA detention program, independent comprehensive criminal investigation, and the issuing of apologies and compensation to victims of enforced disappearance, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

 Continued impunity is a dark chapter in the history of the United States that threatens to undermine the universally-recognized prohibition against torture and other abusive treatment, and sends the dangerous message to U.S. and foreign officials that there will be no consequences for future abuses. Other governments implicated in the CIA torture program must also be held accountable and are obligated to conduct independent investigations, hold perpetrators accountable, and provide effective remedies to victims of torture, enforced disappearance and other human rights violations.

 We know from the experiences of civil society groups and survivors of torture around the world that the struggle for accountability for human rights violations and the search for truth can be a long and difficult journey. Yet the United States has much to gain from rejecting impunity, returning to the rule of law, and providing adequate redress to the dozens and dozens of people it so brutally abused.

 We hope the United States will follow that path.

 Submitted by:

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)

Conectas Direitos Humanos

Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

Endorsed by

Abogadas y Abogados para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos, A. C

Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo

Acción Solidaria en VIH/Sida

Advocates for U.S. Torture Prosecutions

African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies

Ágora Espacio Civil Paraguay

Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School

Amnesty International

Appeal for Justice

Asociación de Familiares de Presos y Desaparecidos Saharauis

Asociación MINGA

Asociación para la Prevención de la Tortura

Asociación Pro derechos Humanos

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for Justice and Accountability

Center for Victims of Torture

Centre for Human Rights

Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres, A. C.

Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.”

Centro de Políticas Públicas y Derechos Humanos

Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional

Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Género - Corporación Humanas

Civilis Derechos Humanos

Colectivo de Abogados "José Alvear Restrepo"

Coletivo PESO/Periferia Soberana

Comisión de Justicia y Paz

Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento

Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos

Corporación Sisma Mujer

Defensa de Niñas y Niños- Internacional

Diyarbakir Bar Association

Due Process of Law Foundation

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights

Four Freedoms Forum & Hawai'i Institute for Human Rights

Fundación Myrna Mack

Fundar. Centro de Análisis e Investigación A.C

Gillis Long Poverty Law Center - Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Global Justice Clinic, NYU School of Law

Grupo de Mujeres de San Cristóbal de las Casas

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales

Human Rights Institute of Columbia Law School

Human Rights Law Network

Human Rights Watch

Instituto Braços - Centro de Defesa de Direitos Humanos de Sergipe

Instituto Brasileiro de Ciências Criminais

Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala

Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay

Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Sociedad

Instituto Migrações e Direitos Humanos

Instituto Pro Bono

International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination

International Commission of Jurists

International Federation for Human Rights

International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School

International Human Rights Program, Boston University School of Law

International Justice Network


Justice Studies Department -Northeastern Illinois University

Kenya Human Rights Commission

KontraS (Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence) in Indonesia

Laboratório de Análise Política Mundial

Legal Resources Centre

Madres Linea Fundadora

Meiklejohn Civil Liberities Institute

Minority Rights Group International

Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres

National Lawyers Guild

North Carolina Stop Torture Now

Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones

Oficina Jurídica Para la Mujer

Partnership For Justice

Paz y Esperanza

PEN American Center

Physicians for Human Rights

Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo

Programa de Pós Graduação em Segurança Pública e Direitos Humanos da Universidade Federal de Rondônia

Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos

Psychologists for Social Responsibility

Quaker House


Santa Clara University School of Law, International Human Rights Clinic

Seguridad en Democracia

Sociedade Maranhense de Direitos Humanos

The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance

Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) International 

Unidad de Protección a Defensores y Defensoras de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala

Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

US Human Rights Network

Women's Link Worldwide

World Organization Against Torture