Congress Should Uphold Anti-Torture Legislation to Mark Victims of Torture Day

Washington, D.C.– To mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Human Rights First calls on members of Congress to protect an historic provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that solidifies the ban on torture as the bill moves to conference. International Day in Support of Victims of Torture arrives in conjunction with the passage of new anti-torture legislation.

“Last week’s legislation that would reaffirm the ban on torture is an enormous achievement in restoring the bipartisan consensus against torture,” said Human Rights First’s Raha Wala. “The Senate took great strides to uphold American ideals; I applaud their leadership and urge all members of Congress to heed their example as the bill moves to conference.”

Last week the Senate passed the McCain-Feinstein amendment in a 78-21 vote. The amendment prevents a return to the brutality, incompetence, and ineffectiveness of the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program.  Fewer than one in five amendments in the last three sessions of Congress have received as much or more support than the anti-torture amendment. In the 114th Congress, only 13% of amendments have received as much or more support. The top Republicans and Democrats on the Intelligence, Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Homeland Security, and Judiciary Committees all voted in favor of the amendment.

The anti-torture legislation was supported by dozens of intelligence and interrogation professionals and retired generals and admirals, including former Director of the CIA Gen. David Petreaus, who said, “I strongly support the extension of the provisions of the U.S. Army Field Manual that currently govern the actions of the U.S. military to all U.S. government personnel and contractors.   Our Nation has paid a high price in recent decades for the information gained by the use of techniques beyond those in the field manual – and, in my view, that price far outweighed the value of the information gained through the use of techniques beyond those in the manual.”

The amendment, designed to prevent any future administration from authorizing torture and other cruelty that violates domestic and international law, will:

  • Restrict the intelligence community—and the CIA in particular—to interrogation methods articulated in the Army Field Manual; and
  • Require that the International Committee of the Red Cross be provided notification of and access to detainees held in U.S. custody.

“The inclusion in the Senate of the McCain-Feinstein amendment to the NDAA is a huge step towards a permanent ban of torture by U.S. government agencies,” noted Wala. “In line with International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the McCain-Feinstein anti-torture provision acknowledges the inhumanity and ineffectiveness of torture. Our leaders must now work to ensure that this important measure that would strengthen the ban on torture makes it into the final bill and is signed into law.”


Published on June 26, 2015


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