Background Briefing

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V. Recommendations to the United States Government:

  • Publicly announce and demonstrate its opposition to “disappearances” by:

    o Making clear that “disappearances” will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

    o Holding criminally responsible officials who order or tolerate “disappearances” by those under their command.

  • Bring all detainees under the full protection of the law. While the situation of detainees may differ, all should be afforded the fundamental guarantees provided for under international law. Restrictions on their rights which may be justified by emergency situations that threaten the life of the nation, such as restrictions on the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial, should be limited in time and subject to periodic judicial supervision; the need for any such restrictions should be periodically revisited with a view to incrementally allowing detainees to enjoy more rights.

  • Hold detainees only in officially recognized places of detention. The names of detainees and their places of detention, including transfers, as well as the names of persons responsible for their detention, should be kept in registers readily available and accessible to those concerned.

  • Grant unrestricted access to the International Committee of the Red Cross to all detainees held pursuant to anti-terrorist operations.

  • Ensure that all detentions anywhere in the world that result from anti-terrorist operations are subject to periodic judicial oversight or to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

  • Take the necessary legislative steps to ensure that the commission of a “disappearance” constitutes a criminal offense, punishable by sanctions commensurate with the gravity of the practice.

  • Allow an impartial and independent investigation into allegations of torture and mistreatment, and of clandestine, for all persons deprived of their liberty in U.S. custody. The investigation should be empowered to recommend the creation of a special prosecutor to probe possible criminal offenses. The investigation should examine, among other things, the link between administration policy discussions and memos and actual practices in U.S. places of detention.

    <<previous  |  index  |  next>>October 2004