USA: Shadow over justice: Absence of accountability and remedy casts shadow over opening of trial of former secret detainee accused in embassy bombings

Report
October 1, 2010

USA: Shadow over justice: Absence of accountability and remedy casts shadow over opening of trial of former secret detainee accused in embassy bombings

Also from day one, the administration was under an international human rights obligation to investigate the evidence of crimes under international law (e.g. enforced disappearance and torture) and other human rights violations associated with the CIA secret detention program and other policies, to bring those responsible to justice, and to ensure effective access to a real remedy for its victims.For individuals subjected to enforced disappearance or torture or other ill-treatment the right to a full and meaningful remedy goes well beyond the exclusion of any information obtained as a consequence of the abuse. The UN Convention against Torture, for instance, explicitly requires the USA to “ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible.”7

Particularly on the international stage, the USA continues to speak the language of human rights. President Obama recently told the UN General Assembly, for example, that “we stand up for universal values because it’s the right thing to do”.8The administration has embedded respect for universal human rights as a core principle of its National Security Strategy.9A commitment to human rights, said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shortly after international Human Rights Day last year, “starts with universal standards and with holding everyone accountable to those standards, including ourselves”.10More recently she told the UN Security Council that as the world works to defeat terrorism, “we cannot abandon our values; we must defend them”. Countering terrorism, she said, means “strengthening our commitment to core values, particularly human rights and the rule of law. We cannot sacrifice those values in our zeal to stop terrorists.”11

Ensuring effective remedy and accountability for the human rights violations committed in the CIA program is a human rights and rule of law obligation of the USA. So is bringing to trial without undue delay, in accordance with international fair trial standards, those in its custody it intends to prosecute.12