Investigation, Prosecution, Remedy: Accountability For Human Rights Violations In The War On Terror


Investigation, Prosecution, Remedy: Accountability For Human Rights Violations In The War On Terror

  • Ensuring that no one is forcibly returned or transferred to any place where there are substantial grounds to believe that the person would be at risk of serious human rights violations or the death penalty; and not seeking or accepting "diplomatic assurances" where there are substantial grounds for believing that a person for whom a forcible return or transfer is contemplated would be at risk of serious human rights violations, including torture or other ill-treatment.

  • 5. Accountability: Part of the whole, part of a new start

    There is not a single fix that will bring the USA's actions on counterterrorism into compliance with international law. The violations in the "war on terror" have been many and varied, and the government has exploited a long-standing reluctance of the USA to commit itself fully to international law, including in relation to recognising the full range of its international obligations with respect to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The question of accountability and remedy for violations in the "war on terror" must therefore be part of a new commitment by the USA to international law.


    As was noted above, a holistic approach is necessary following a period of widespread human rights violations. Punishment can be viewed as political revenge if it is not accompanied by truth-telling and reparation. Truth-telling without criminal responsibility and institutional reform may be seen as words without action. Reparations without prosecutions and revelation of the truth may be seen as an attempt to buy silence. Reform of institutions without justice, truth and reparation, is unlikely to succeed and ignores accountability. All aspects are needed.

    Ending unlawful detentions, including by terminating the CIA's secret detention program and closing the Guantánamo detention facility; bringing all interrogation techniques and detention conditions into full compliance with international law and standards; ensuring access by detainees to lawyers and the courts; and ending the use of diplomatic assurances to facilitate the transfer of detainees to situations of real risk of serious violations of human rights are among the steps that must be taken to ensure present and future compliance with international law. Such steps must accompany the measures, outlined in this report, necessary to ensure full accountability for past violations.



    1 President Bush, Jordanian King Discuss Iraq, Middle East, 6 May 2004,

    2 Interview of the President by Al Arabiya Television, 5 May 2004,

    3 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Department Town Hall meeting, 11 May 2004, http://www.defense....