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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

UN torture investigator calls on Obama to charge Bush for Guantanamo abuses
Ximena Marinero at 8:31 AM ET

[JURIST] US President Barack Obama [official website] has an obligation to bring charges against former President George W. Bush [official profile; JURIST news archive] and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [JURIST news archive] for ordering illegal interrogation methods at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST archive], according to a statement made by UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment Manfred Nowak [official website; JURIST news archive] in an interview [transcript, PDF, in German; press release, PDF, in German] Tuesday with German television program ZDF Frontal 21 [media website, in German]. Nowak said that such actions constituted a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture [text], to which the US is a party. Nowak noted that although evidence is available to press charges, he does not know whether US law would recognize the interrogation techniques used as forms of torture.

Last week, the chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee [official website] released a report [text, PDF] recommending the Obama administration undertake a criminal investigation [JURIST report] to determine whether any laws were broken by the Bush administration. In an interview [ABC transcript] broadcast last week, Obama said that while he has not ruled out prosecuting officials [JURIST report] for rights abuses during the Bush administration, he wanted to focus on "getting things right in the future." In late December, the US Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] alleged in a report [text, PDF] that high-ranking Bush administration officials, including Rumsfeld, are responsible for the abuses [JURIST report] committed by US interrogators in military detention centers.

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