The Shame of Torture
National Council of Churches Calls on US to Shut Down Guantanamo
Who Would Jesus Torture? Forty-five million American Christians condemn the U.S. torture camp at Guantanamo. Is anybody listening to them?
Here is the text of a letter from the National Council of Churches to Secretary of State Condoleezza "Torture" Rice.
In its letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the National Council Of Churches emphatically supports the United Nations report of February 15,2006, which recommends that, "the United States Government should either expeditiously bring all Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial, in compliance with articles 9(3) and 14 of ICCPR, or release them without further delay." The letter also renews a request to allow an interfaith delegation to go to Guantanamo to monitor the physical, mental, and spiritual condition of the detainees.
The complete text of this letter follows:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Rice,
I urge you to give serious personal attention to the report "Situation of Detainees at Guantanamo Bay" that was issued on February 15 by the Commission on Human Rights of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
We emphatically support the recommendation that, "the United States Government should either expeditiously bring all Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial, in compliance with articles 9(3) and 14 of ICCPR, or release them without further delay".
We also support the recommendation that, "the United States Government should close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility without further delay."
And, as the report continues, "Until the closure, and possible transfer of detainees to pre-trial detention facilities on United States territory, the Government should refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, discrimination on the basis of religion, and violations of the rights to health and freedom of religion."
These recommendations are consistent with a February 23, 2004 resolution of the Executive Board of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, which states, "Our concern is based on the fundamental Christian belief in the dignity of the human person created in the image of God, and on the rights accorded all persons by virtue of their humanity" ...and the belief "that indefinite detention of persons without due process is a violation of their dignity and worth as children of God."
We are deeply disturbed that a group with great international stature has concluded after careful study that, "The interrogation techniques authorized by the Department of Defense, particularly if used simultaneously, amount to degrading treatment in violation of article 7 of ICCPR and article 16 of the Convention Against Torture" and that "force feeding of detainees on hunger strike must be assessed a mounting to torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention Against Torture."
The response by Ambassador Edward Moley that seeks to discredit their findings on the basis that the Special Rapporteurs rejected the invitation to personally observe conditions at Guantanamo ignores well established international practice that an investigation cannot be conducted without private access to detainees.
In 2003 and 2004 the National Council of Churches requested and was denied an opportunity to send a small interfaith delegation to Guantanamo to monitor the physical, mental and spiritual condition of the detainees.
Today we renew that request, not only for the benefit of the detainees but for the benefit of the reputation of our country in an increasingly skeptical world. Unless our government quickly allows independent credible access to the detainees, the charges made in the UN report will only take on greater weight.
Finally, we believe it is time for serious reconsideration of the retention of U.S. presence on the territory of Cuba. The history of the lease that was imposed on the Cubans in 1903, and the lack of any strategic national interest in maintaining an American presence on Cuban territory, contributes to negative views in which our country is held in this hemisphere and worldwide.
Robert W. Edgar
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