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UN official calls for Bush and Cheney to be charged with torture

“It is now time to take action.”

Bush Kennedy Honors Source: AP/Press Association Images

THE UN’S SPECIAL Rapporteur on Human Rights is stepping up his calls for senior US officials including former president George W Bush to be prosecuted for war crimes.

Ben Emmerson, a British expert on human rights and counterterrorism, suggested that anyone implicated by this week’s damning US Senate report on torture, could and should face arrest and prosecution if they leave America.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme this morning, Emmerson said:

Waterboarding and the other techniques that were used are torture, and they’re international crimes under the UN Convention Against Torture.

He emphasised that the legal definition of torture includes those who order and sign off on acts of torture, as well as those who commit them.

Though Emmerson noted that George W Bush, as a former head of state, might enjoy certain protections, he suggested US officials as well as CIA operatives, should be charged abroad, if necessary.

Torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction, so…where there is evidence to justify a prosecution, anybody who is found in the territory of another state is liable to be charged.

Ben Emmerson QC, UN Special Rapporteur on Counterterrorism and Human Rights Ben Emmerson - UN Special Rapporteur on Counterterrorism and Human Rights Source: Chatham House, London

He noted that Italy had already convicted 22 CIA agents (in their absence) for their involvement in torture.

Emmerson chiefly called for charges to be brought from within America itself, saying US Attorney General Eric Holder is “now under an international legal obligation” to reopen inquiries based on the 1984 UN Convention.

In a statement on Tuesday, Emmerson said the time had come for those who orchestrated the torture regime to be “brought to justice.”

It is now time to take action. The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.
The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever.
Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.

Read: Dick Cheney thinks that CIA torture report is ‘full of crap’>

The CIA misled the White House and used ineffective, brutal interrogations>

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Dan MacGuill

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