Washington, D.C. – Today marks the 25th anniversary of the U.S. signing of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, a landmark treaty that affirmed torture is antithetical to American morals and values. The ratification of the convention was championed by President Ronald Reagan during his last year in office and is now a binding document that, as he professed, “will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately prevalent in the world today.”
“As the debate around U.S. torture policy continues to rear its ugly head, this anniversary is an important reminder that torture is not a partisan issue,” said Human Rights First’s Raha Wala. “President Reagan recognized the importance of taking a stand against torture in all circumstances. His leadership to sign this convention should inspire today’s politicians to work together to make sure that America never again fails to uphold the treaty’s principles, as it did in the wake of 9/11 . An important step toward that end is the declassification and release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture. We must come to grips with what happened and what went wrong before we can truly say that we are committed to never repeating this shameful chapter in our great nation’s history.”
In December 2012, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) voted to adopt its 6,000 plus page report on the former CIA detention and torture program. This vote marked an important step towards ensuring that past policies and practices of torture and official cruelty in U.S. intelligence operations are not be repeated. The committee, led by Chair Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and joined by 8 members, including Republican Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), voted 9-6 to adopt the report, which is now with the Obama Administration for review and comment. The administration was to have responded to the committee on February 15th, but the results of its review have yet to be shared with Congress.
“Releasing the intelligence committee’s report would send a clear message that torture and abuse have no place in U.S. intelligence operations,” said Wala. “It would also uphold the commitment championed by President Reagan to fulfill our great nation’s legacy against torture.”