ICRC, jurists' group join in rebuke of Trump's torture remarks, 'black site' reports

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 26, 2017 10:04 AM

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) have joined global human rights groups in their rebuke of U.S. President Donald Trump for condoning torture.

Trump told ABC in an interview on Wednesday that he thought that waterboarding "worked" as an intelligence-gathering tool but said he would defer to his cabinet on whether to use it in interrogations.

Two U.S. officials said also on Wednesday that Trump may order a review that could lead to bringing back a CIA program for holding terrorism suspects in secret overseas "black sites" prisons.

"These practices of torturing detainees and ‘disappearing’ them in black sites are serious crimes which must never be repeated," Ian Seiderman, Legal and Policy Director of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said in a statement.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reprieve, a British-based group which represented scores of Guantanamo detainees, have also issued rebukes.

ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson said: "For any political leader to advocate torture is very worrying indeed. Experience has shown that using torture doesn't work, it only grows hatred."

According to a document published in the Washington Post, the president may also be planning to revoke Obama directives including one guaranteeing ICRC access to all detainees in U.S. custody. The Trump administration has denied the document came from the White House.

ICRC officials have visited security detainees in U.S. custody in places including Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo detention facility in Cuba. Their findings on conditions and treatment are shared only with detaining authorities.

"We have a long-standing, constructive and confidential dialogue with the US authorities on detention-related matters and other issues linked to armed conflict," ICRC spokeswoman Anna Nelson said.

"We plan to continue visiting detainees held by the U.S. authorities, monitoring their treatment and conditions of detention, and engaging confidentially with the authorities on these important issues," she said.

Torture is forbidden under U.S. law as well as under international law, and under international pacts such as the United Nations Convention against Torture and the Geneva Conventions.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)