December 11, 2014 / 1:28 AM / 5 years ago

U.N. rights boss says there should be no impunity for U.S. torture

Jordan's Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights listens during a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva October 16, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Wednesday there should be no impunity or statute of limitations for torture, the day after the U.S. Senate issued a report on Bush-era crimes against security detainees.

The Convention against Torture prohibits torture and allows for “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever”, not even a state of war, as justification, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein said in a statement issued in Geneva on the annual Human Rights Day.

“The Convention lets no one off the hook – neither the torturers themselves, nor the policy-makers, nor the public officials who define the policy or give the orders,” he said. The pact has been ratified by 156 countries.

The CIA misled the White House and public about its torture of detainees after the Sept. 11 attacks and acted more brutally and pervasively than it acknowledged, a U.S. Senate report said on Tuesday, drawing calls to prosecute American officials.

“To have it so clearly confirmed that it was recently practiced – as a matter of policy – by a country such as the United States is a very stark reminder that we need to do far, far more to stamp it out everywhere,” Zeid said.

“This has been true at the best of times. It is particularly true during this period of rising international terrorism, when it has shown a tendency to slither back into practice, disguised by euphemisms, even in countries where it is clearly outlawed.”

In Brazil, a national “truth commission” appointed in 2012 is due on Wednesday to issue a report shedding new light on the crimes committed by the military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985.

Zeid added: “While it will take time to fully analyze the contents of these two landmark reports – and I do not wish to pre-empt that analysis – we can still draw some stark conclusions about the failures to eradicate this serious international crime, for which there should be no statute of limitations and no impunity.”

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Larry King

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