UN panel raps U.S. record on torture
Geneva — Police brutality, military interrogations and prisons were among the top concerns of a U.N. panel’s report Friday that found the United States to be falling short of full compliance with an international anti-torture treaty.
The report by the U.N. Committee Against Torture, its first such review of the U.S. record since 2006, expressed concerns about allegations of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, particularly the Chicago Police Department’s treatment of blacks and Latinos. It also called for restricting the use of taser weapons by police to life-threatening situations. But it had no specific recommendation or reaction to a grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri who fatally shot a black and unarmed teenager.
The report also criticizes the U.S. record on military interrogations, maximum security prisons, illegal migrants and solitary confinement while calling for tougher federal laws to define and outlaw torture, including with detainees at Guantanamo Bay and in Yemen. It also called for abolishing interrogation techniques that rely on sleep or sensory deprivation “aimed at prolonging the sense of capture.”
“There are numerous areas in which certain things should be changed for the United States to comply fully with the convention,” Alessio Bruni of Italy, one of the panel’s chief investigators, said at a news conference Friday in Geneva. He was referring to the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which took effect in 1987 and the United States ratified in 1994.
The U.N. committee’s 10 independent experts are responsible for reviewing the records of all 156 U.N. member countries that have ratified the treaty against torture and all “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
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