No time for a Potemkin Review: 55 Governments Cross Referenced with CAT Committee Members

By Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law, Advocates for U.S. Torture Prosecutions

In preparing for next week’s periodic review of the United States before the UN Committee Against Torture, I noted that Harold Hongju Koh has weighed in again on the geographical extent of the US obligation here at http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/11/memo-to-the-president-say-yes-to-the-comprehensive-torture-ban-112598.html#.VF0sPeco59B .

So it appears that the die is being cast for at least a discussion of this part of the issue at the meeting. It occurred to me that, speaking of geography, it might be useful to name the countries who in some manner participated in the torture and to cross-reference the countries with the nationality or residence of the ten UN Committee Against Torture members.  When I did this, I was struck by the fact that seven out of the ten members of the UN Committee Against Torture come from or reside in countries that have been linked to the US torture program.  The two US residents or nationals on the Committee are not participating in the review which means that five out of the eight remaining members of the Committee reviewing the US periodic report come from countries that have been linked to the US torture program.

Let us hope that these persons, like the people of goodwill working on vindicating the absolute prohibition of torture, will not be influenced by the posture that their countries took in assisting the US torture program and will speak clearly truth to power at home and abroad.  We have had too many Potemkin reviews internally.

Here is the list.

The 54 governments identified in this report [torture participants/collaborators] span the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, and include:

 Afghanistan,

Albania,

Algeria,

Australia,

Austria,

Azerbaijan,

Belgium,

Bosnia-Herzegovina,

Canada,

Croatia,

Cyprus,

the Czech Republic,

Denmark, Mr. Jens Modvig, U.S. Country Rapporteur for CAT Review

Djibouti,

Egypt,

Ethiopia,

Finland,

Gambia,

Georgia,  Mr. George Tugushi

Germany,

Greece,

Hong Kong,  Mr. Zhang Kening

Iceland,

Indonesia,

Iran,

Ireland,

Italy, Mr. Alessio Bruni, U.S. Country Rapporteur for CAT Review

Jordan,

Kenya,

Libya,

Lithuania,

Macedonia,

Malawi,

Malaysia,

Mauritania,

Morocco, Judge Essadia Belmir, Vice-Chairperson of the CAT

Pakistan,

Poland,

Portugal,

Romania,

Saudi Arabia,

Somalia,

South Africa,

Spain,

Sri Lanka,

Sweden,

Syria,

Thailand,

Turkey,

United Arab Emirates,

United Kingdom,

Uzbekistan,

Yemen,

Zimbabwe

plus

United States Ms. Felice Gaer, Vice-Chairperson not part of U.S. Review, Dean Claudio Grossman Chairperson, not part of US review

Source: Globalizing Torture, CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition, Open Society Justice Initiative, 2013 available at http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/globalizing-torture-20120205.pdf