In a statement made yesterday, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson, welcomed the publication of the summary of the Feinstein report on crimes of torture and enforced disappearance of terrorist suspects by the CIA during the Bush-era.
“The summary of the Feinstein report […] confirms what the international community has long believed – that there was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration, which allowed to commit systematic crimes and gross violations of international human rights law”, said the Special Rapporteur.
Ben Emmerson added that it is now time to take action and bring to justice the individuals listed in the report, irrespective of the fact that the policies revealed in the report were authorised at a high level within the US Government.
The Special Rapporteur highlighted that international law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture and therefore that CIA officers who physically committed acts of torture bear individual criminal responsibility for their conduct
“This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the US Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes”, he said.
For Ben Emmerson, the heaviest penalties should be reserved for those most seriously implicated in the planning and purported authorisation of these crimes. Moreover, he said, former Bush Administration officials who have admitted their involvement in the programme should also face criminal prosecution for their acts.
The Special Rapporteur concluded that torture being a crime of universal jurisdiction, the perpetrators may be prosecuted by any other country they may travel to. However, he added that the primary responsibility for bringing those responsible to justice rests with the US Department of Justice and the Attorney General.