OMCT - World Organisation Against Torture

10/09/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/09/2019 02:49

United States: The appointment of a torture supporter would endanger human rights worldwide

Statement 9 October 2019 Global - Marshall Billingslea, a man who openly advocated for the use of torture, has been nominated to lead the human rights policy of the United States. This is deeply wrong in principle, and in practice puts both victims of torture and those defending them at increased risk.

The undersigned, members of the global SOS-Torture Network of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), urge US Senators to reject Mr. Billingslea's confirmation.

As an official in the George W. Bush administration, and a member of what has been referred to as the 'torture team', Marshall Billingslea showeda particular zeal in promoting interrogation methods amounting to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. He did so not only in violation of the absolute prohibition of torture enshrined in various international treaties to which the US is a party, but even, at times, despite protests from high-ranking US military lawyers.

One well-documented example is that of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian detained without charge at Guantanamo Bay from 2002 until his release in 2016, whose mental health was so affected by the treatment he suffered following Marshall Billingslea's recommendations that he had started hearing voices. The Marine officer in charge of Mr. Slahi's prosecution resigned rather than support court proceedings based on confessions extracted under torture.

If a man with such a track record was to become Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, it would be a slap in the face of countless torture victims throughout the world - men, women, and yes, children, who have survived the unspeakable.

We work with these survivors every day, or with the families of those who never came back alive from police stations, prisons or other places where authoritarian regimes routinely break bodies and minds. We do our best to help them rebuild their lives and, when they so wish, seek justice. Many among us carry out this work at great personal risk. A risk that has steadily increased over the past years, as autocrats worldwide feel emboldened to break the law with impunity.

Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights are all premised on the rule of law. The absolute prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as accountability and justice are its foundational norms and values. Should Marshall Billingslea be confirmed to this position, his credibility - and that of the United States - on such fundamental issues would be profoundly affected. Regimes that resort to torture, sexual abuse, and extrajudicial killings would feel they have a license to carry on without fear of consequences. The people we help would be made even more vulnerable. And our own security would weigh even less than it already does.

An official who helped develop the faulty legal justification for torture is the wrong man for the job. The US Senate has for many years showed leadership in contributing to the United Nations Fund for Victims of Torture. It should stay the course and reject this nomination.

List of signatories

1. ACAT Belgique2. ACAT Bénin3. ACAT Burundi4. ACAT Cameroun5. ACAT Canada6. ACAT Deutschland7. ACAT France8. ACAT Ghana9. ACAT Liberia10. ACAT République Centrafricaine11. ACAT Spain/Cataluna12. ACAT Suisse13. ACAT Sweden14. ACAT Tchad15. ACADHOSHA, DRC16. ACI Participa, Honduras17. Alliance pour l'universalité des droits Fondamentaux, DRC18. Alternative Espace Niger, Niger 19. Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de España (APRODH-E), Spain 20. Association Tchadienne pour la Promotion et la Défense des Droits de l'Homme (ATPDH), Tchad21. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India22. Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas (FrayBa), Mexico 23. Centro de Prevencion, Tratamiento y Rehabilitation (CPTRT), Honduras24. Centro Prodh, Mexico25. Coalition des Organisations de Défense des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie au Niger (CODDHD), Niger26. Colectivo de Abogados 'José Alvear Restrepo' (CAJAR), Colombia 27. Collectif des Associations Contre l'Impunité au Togo (CACIT), Togo28. Committee against Torture (CAT), Russia29. Documenta, Mexico30. Enfants Solidaires d'Afrique et du Monde (ESAM), Bénin 31. FIACAT32. Fundación Comité de Solidaridad con Presos Políticos (FCSPP), Colombia33. Greek Helsinki Monitor, Greece34. Gulf Center for Human Rights 35. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan36. Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU), Kenya37. Instituto de Derechos Humanos de la UCA (IDHUCA), El Salvador38. Instituto de Terapia e Investigación sobrelas Secuelas de la Tortura y de la Violencia Estatal (ITEI), Bolivia39. La Cimade, France40. Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH), Lebanon 41. Ligue algérienne pour la défense des droits de l'Homme (LADDH), Algérie42. Mouvement ivorien des droits humains (MIDH), Côte d'Ivoire43. Odhikar, Bangladesh44. Paso del Norte, Mexico45. Philippines Alliance of Human Rights Advocate (PAHRA), Philippines46. PromoLex, Moldova47. Quill Foundation, India48. Réseau de protection des victimes, témoins et défenseurs des Droits Humains (RDDH), DRC49. SOHRAM-Casra, Turkey50. SOS IJM - SOS Information Juridique Multidimensionnelle, DRC51. SOS-Torture Burundi, Burundi52. Synergie des femmes contre les violences sexuelles (SFVS), DRC53. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Philippines54. UDEFEGUA, Guatemala55. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)56. Xumek, Argentina


Media Contact:Iolanda Jaquemet
World Organization Against Torture
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