Malinowski and McLeod statements before UN Committee Against Torture

From the opening statement in Geneva yesterday by Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor:

The United States was founded on the principle of respect for the dignity of the individual, and no crime offends human dignity more than torture.   The prohibition of torture and cruel treatment is part of our Constitution, and it binds our federal government and all 50 of our states.  We believe that torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment are forbidden in all places, at all times, with no exceptionsThe legal and moral argument against torture would be dispositive under any circumstances.  It would not matter to that argument if torture were effective; our experience also taught that it is not.  It not only devastates its victims, but harms people and countries that employ it. . . .

It’s important to stress that we expect others to hold us to the same high standards to which we hold them. And we do not claim to be perfect.  A little more than ten years ago, our government was employing interrogation methods that, as President Obama has said, any fair minded person would believe were torture. . . .

U.S. national security agencies now arguably have more explicit safeguards against torture and cruelty than those of any other country on earth.  They can and should be a model for others.

The opening statement of Acting State Legal Adviser Mary McLeod is here.  It explains the U.S.’s revised views on Articles 2 and 16 of the Convention Against Torture.

The U.S. delegation will answer questions from the Committee beginning at 9:00 EDT this morning; it ought to be viewable here.


About the Author(s)

Marty Lederman

Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. He was Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Office of Legal Counsel from 2009-2010, and Attorney Advisor at the Office of Legal Counsel from 1994-2002. Member of the editorial board of Just Security. You can follow him on Twitter (@marty_lederman).