(CNSNews.com) – The U.N. Human Rights Council’s newly installed expert on torture says the Obama administration should investigate allegations of torture under President George W. Bush and prosecute those responsible – including those who gave the orders.
Juan Ernesto Mendez said in an interview with Reuters this week he hoped to visit
“There has to be a more serious inquiry into what happened and by whose orders,” said Mendez. “It doesn’t need to be seen to be partisan or vindictive, just an obligation to follow where the evidence leads.”
Mendez, a lawyer from
As CNSNews reported recently, Mendez is former president of the
ICTJ said in a 2009 briefing note that it is not enough to hold accountable “only those who carried out orders or whose actions went beyond the stated government policy,” but that “prosecutions should focus on policy-makers and high-level officials.”
The subject of torture returned to the headlines this month with the publication of former President Bush’s memoir, in which he said he had personally approved the “waterboarding” of senior al-Qaeda terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
State Department legal advisor Harold Hongju Koh told a Nov. 5 press conference in Geneva that the Obama administration “defines waterboarding as torture as a matter of law under the Convention Against Torture.”
The Convention Against Torture, a U.N. treaty which the
Mendez, who was himself tortured in military-ruled Argentina during the 1970s, told the Australian broadcaster ABC there was no “serious question” that waterboarding – an interrogation method that simulates drowning – constitutes torture under international law.
“I mean, it’s a question of severity,” he said. “If you think that waterboarding is not severe mistreatment you don’t really know what waterboarding is.”
Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union and others have called for
In an earlier acknowledgment that he endorsed Mohammed’s waterboarding, made during an appearance in
Khalid Sheik Mohammed masterminded al-Qaeda’s attacks on the
Almost 3,000 people were killed when 19 terrorists seized passenger planes and flew two of them into the