Imagini ale paginilor




February 21, 1990.

Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate Washington, D.C. 20510 DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: On behalf of the American Jewish Congress, and its 50,000 members nationwide, I am writing to urge you to recommend that the United States ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention Against Torture).

Jewish values and traditions teach that every human being is imbued with worth and dignity. There can never be any justification for torture, for stripping individuals of their fundamental human dignity. This is why we need basic international protections against the use of torture by governments.

The Convention Against Torture provides these basic protections. It was adopted unanimously by the United Nations in December 1984, and was implemented in 1987. While the United States played a leadership role in the drafting of the Convention, it is the only member nation of the United Nations Security Council which has not ratified this important international agreement.

The Convention provides a definition of torture so that torturers are not able to claim ignorance of the fact that their actions constitute torture. Additionally, the Convention mandates a procedure for punishing those governments which are guilty of torture. We hope that you will support the Convention Against Torture, and that you oppose reservations, declarations, or understandings which would unnecessarily weaken these and other important provisions in the Convention.

I respectfully request that this letter be made part of the hearing record.
Thank you for your consideration.




The U.S. Catholic Conference supports ratification of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or punishment. In our judgment, this convention is a sound instrument that can contribute to actualizing the ideals of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

* *

are a supreme

Fortunately, there is widespread agreement that torture and similar gross violations of human rights are morally repugnant. In the words of the Second Vatican Council, they are "infamies" that "poison human society (and) dishonor to the Creator." While most nations of the world have joined the United States in condemning torture or extra judicial killings in principle, in practice, according to Amnesty International, more than one-third of the world's governments engage in, tolerate, or condone such acts.

In Catholic moral teaching, infringements of fundamental human rights, particularly those as serious as torture, must be combated not just by moral persuasion but also by practical action, including effective national and international legal mechanisms. The torture convention not only helps solidify a world-wide consensus that torture must be eradicated but, more importantly, it takes a critical step in the process of developing and strengthening an international standard of conduct for governments, and in providing mechanisms for monitoring and responding to instances of torture. Ratification of the convention by the United States, which played a major role in drafting it, would help institutionalize and concretize its leadership role in combating the abhorrent practices covered by the convention. It would be


one more indication that in this increasingly interdependent world the United States is committed to expanding the role of multilateral structures in protecting and promoting human rights.

Given the importance of expanding the role of such multilateral structures, we hope that in considering reservations, declarations and understandings every effort is made to ensure that the final instrument of ratification reflects a substantive, not merely symbolic, commitment of the United States to work within the international community to eliminate torture.

In sum, the USCC supports ratification of the torture convention because it offers the United States an opportunity to play a leadership role in establishing, expanding and strengthening the kinds of international structures that are necessary to ensure world-wide protection of fundamental human rights.



I am the Chairman of the Connecticut Bar Association's section of international law and world peace. I expressed our section's support for the ratification by the United States of the so called "Torture" Convention. We understand that the public hearing on this Convention was rescheduled for January 30, 1990 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

We wish to reaffirm our support for ratification by the United States and to respectfully urge you to support ratification of this Convention without reservation. Of greatest concern to the section is the administration' proposed reservation to article 16 of the Convention, which reads as follows: The United States considers itself bound by the obligation under article 16 to prevent "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," only insofar as the term "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" means the cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth and/or Fourteenth Amend ments to the Constitution of United States.

Article 16 simply places on the Federal Government the obligation to train law enforcement and medical personnel in the prevention of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as that prohibition is and has been construed by authoritative international tribunals. We do not believe that such an obligation is an onerous one, especially for a nation espousing respect for the rule of law in international law and human rights. While we recognize this is a slightly higher standard than the Constitution requires, we believe the Constitution is a minimum, not a maximum, standard of treatment.

Other organizations actively support ratification of this important human rights Convention without this reservation, including the American Bar Association and Amnesty International.

Ratification without this and the other two proposed reservations (concerning the need for implementing legislation and the refusal of the United States to be bound by article 30's international arbitration procedure) as well as the "non-selfexecuting" declaration, would only serve to provide additional protection for people in the United States against unlawful violence under color of lawful authority. After all, the United States played an active role in drafting the Convention and lobbied other United Nation members to adopt it. The United States credibility in promoting international human rights will be called into question if it does not follow up on its initiatives and ratify the Convention without reservation.

The United States has very little to fear from ratification without reservation because its record is excellent on torture and ill-treatment. To the extent that violations do occur, the United States should be willing to address those few violations as a reasonable price for demonstrating to the world community our Nation's commitment to the equal application of international human rights norms. The rule of law is our only protection against torture and other ill-treatment.

The Connecticut Bar Association's section of international law and world peace respectfully requests this letter be included as part of the record of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's hearing scheduled for January 30, 1990.


MR. CHAIRMAN: Let me urge you and your committee to endorse the concepts contained within the confines of the Convention on Torture. Never is there an excuse for individuals on behalf of governments to use torture regardless of other intentions. I am only familiar with the use of torture by one nation, the United Kingdom,

which has been torturing Irish People for the past 20 years by a policy of state terrorism. I submit to you evidence of the British campaign of torture and murder against the Irish people for inclusion in your committee report. Many of your colleagues have spoken out against British abuse and this is commendable and I would like to thank Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah who has been very vocal in his concern with the basic human and constitutional rights of the Irish people in Ireland, England and the United States. I have had the honor of acting as Senator Hatch's Irish advisor for the past seven years and know his commitment.

For the past 20 years, the British government has pursued a policy of murder, torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has now admitted that the British government's MI 5 and MI 6 engaged in a "dirty tricks" campaign in the early seventies. These intelligence groups as well as the elite Strategic Air Services (SAS) were responsible for assassinations and the systematic torture of Irish People.

The state terrorism of the British is unparralled in any nation that calls itself free and democratic. The torture convention before you must be particularly aimed at the British. Ninety to ninety-five percent of those presently incarcerated in Prisons in Northern Ireland and in England, that is, Irishmen and Irishwomen, were tortured to obtain confessions and these confessions along with sworn statements of government paid informers, paid to lie, were used as convicting evidence. The courts in Northern Ireland are non jury courts where a government judge is appointed to operate the British conveyor belt of injustice.

In 1976, Britain was cited for torture by the European Commission on Human Rights and convicted of cruel and degrading treatment of Irish people in 1978. Does it continue? The British Secretary of State for Defense stated recently about the dirty tricks campaign: "it is still used in Ulster (Northern Ireland) where it is necessary to protect lives and for sound and absolutely honourable reasons." If murder, torture and a campaign of lies are for honourable reasons, what are the dishonourable ones.

The case against the United Kingdom and their campaign of murder as well as physical and psychological torture of Irish civilians is overwhelming and substantiated by evidence. The tragedy is that it is on going and the United States has remained deathly silent accepting publicly Britain's denials and thereby participating in the cover up of atrocity. At least the condemn nation of torture through the convention is a start. As part of this written testimony, let me offer the committee a synopsis of the British "dirty tricks" campaign and chapter 5 of a book by two English people who set out the British state terrorism which is the root cause of the problem in Ireland.

THE BRITISH CAMPAIGN OF DIRTY TRICKS (MURDER, TORTURE AND DISINFORMATION) British Intelligence and Conservative M.P. Airey Neave were the architects. 1. They published lies about alleged Irish terrorists.

2. They published lies about Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

3. They published lies about Conservative Leader, Edward Heath

4. They published lies about prominent Irish Americans, Fr. Sean McManus, Frederico P. Burns-O'Brien, Congressman Mario Biaggi and others. The result of the campaign put Thatcher in as Tory leader in 1975 and as Prime Minister in 1979 with Neave as her top advisor. All this was done with the knowledge of the CIA. 5. British security forces murdered and abused Irish People (almost all Catholics) in Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland to instill fear and terror in the population generally. In November 1989, an American citizen, Liam Ryan was murdered by surrogate agents of the British security forces extending the terror to Americans. 6. The British security forces torture suspects on the street in random searches and in custody. Fred Holroyd, former British military intelligence officer in Northern Ireland served as liaison between military intelligence, MI 6, the RUC local police and the SAS elite units. He has confirmed the dirty tricks campaign; he participated in it. Also, Colin Wallace, civilian press officer of the Ministry of Defense, confirmed 35 assassinations by security forces in the first 6 months of 1976 alone. British Police Superintendent, John Stalker, investigated a "shoot to kill" policy and confirmed it as well. All was denied by Thatcher in May 1987, but more recent revelations forced her to recant and in a letter to the House of Commons, January 30, 1990 she had to admit lying.

The ongoing murders by British security forces leave little hope that their policy of State Terrorism will end soon until the torture and murder campaigns are given public exposure. On January 13, 1990, three alleged suspects were pursued by plain clothes SAS soldiers and shot without warning then, according to eye witnesses they

were shot as they lay dying on the ground. Three other SAS murders in 1989 were similarly carried out. In many cases, murders carried out by the British security forces are preceded by beatings and torture of the victims.

The British who are self righteous and quick to condemn need only look in the mirror to find the greatest torturers of the second half of the 20th Century. The United States must be the loudest in condemnation of the British if they are to look in the mirror and not see a two faced hypocrite. So many individual leaders in the U.S. have had the courage to condemn British atrocities, it is time the government did so. The Torture Convention is a step in the right direction.



The Federal Bar Association International Law Section strongly supports the advice and consent by the U.S. Senate to ratification of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture).

This treaty, which the United States has signed, represents an important step forward in the development of international standards against torture.

The Convention makes it legitimate for a nation to be concerned and to intercede regarding the behavior of another country toward its citizens. The Convention reinforces the definition of torture so that torturers may no longer claim that they were unaware of the meaning of torture.

The United States played a major role in drafting the treaty. It should complete the process by ratifying the Convention. It is the only permanent member of the U.N. Security Council which has not ratified the Convention.

The United States publicly proclaims support for human rights. The longer it waits to ratify the treaty, the more its credibility as a human rights leader is eroded. Ratification is vital in proving the U.S. commitment to human rights as a concern that crosses national boundaries.


MR. CHAIRMAN: Human Rights Advocates is a California-based, public interest, non-profit organization that works to promote human rights through the use of international law. HRA has provided information to congressional offices on a variety of human rights initiatives, and filed interventions with U.N. human rights bodies in Geneva and New York. HRA members participated in the drafting of U.N. instruments condemning torture and continue to work for greater compliance. We are pleased to join various colleagues in submitting testimony urging ratification of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and commend the Foreign Relations Committee for convening hearings on this pressing and important issue.

HRA strongly support U.S. ratification of the Torture Convention but equally strongly opposes all of the reservations the administration has proposed that the Senate attach to its advice and consent to ratification. We are concerned that the administration has recommended a number of reservations with the aim of assuring that ratification will require only minimal changes in U.S. law.

That attitude sends a disturbing signal to other governments and is sure to be cited by some as justification for their own acceptance of the treaty subject to conditions that would minimize domestic relevance. While we are pleased that the administration recommends participation in the committee established to monitor compliance with the treaty, the proposed reservations would have the effect of shielding the U.S. from scrutiny. If the U.S. is to achieve credibility in its commitment to human rights it must be willing to be held to the same standards as other participating governments.

We are particularly distressed by the reservation to article 16 whereby the U.S. proposes to limit the meaning of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" to the U.S. understanding of treatment or punishment by the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The State Department's objections to article 16 focus on two points: (1) the European Court of Human Rights' ruling in the Soering case that death row conditions in certain circumstances could violate the European prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment, and (2) the vagueness of the phrase "degrading treatment."

We believe that both those concerns can be addressed adequately through the deliberations of the committee against torture. In any event, to the extent that the

« ÎnapoiContinuă »