By Stephen Boykewich, New York
Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to investigate specific detainee interrogations in U.S. counter-terrorism operations overseas is a positive step toward justice and accountability, the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) said Monday.
ICTJ also welcomed the declassification of additional portions of the CIA Inspector General’s report on this topic, while stressing that a far broader investigation was needed.
“The Attorney General’s appointment of a prosecutor is a good start,” ICTJ U.S. Accountability Project Director Lisa Magarrell said. “However, information already in the public realm indicates that the abuse of detainees was not a matter of isolated cases.
In fact, a key question is whether the legal guidance coming out of the Office of the Legal Counsel at the time itself violated U.S. legal obligations under international and federal law. We expect that this preliminary inquiry must eventually look at the bigger picture of systematic interrogation abuses spread across detention sites, involving a range of agencies and responsibilities, and responding to a high-level policy.”
ICTJ Acting President Alex Boraine said, “Informing the public about what was done in its name is a painful but necessary step. Without the truth, it will be impossible to restore the public trust, reclaim the moral standing of the United States as a country deeply committed to human rights, and place appropriate checks on authority and the use of power. We hope that an independent and comprehensive inquiry will ultimately reveal the full extent of abuses and those responsible.”
The International Center for Transitional Justice assists countries pursuing accountability for past mass atrocity or human rights abuse. The Center works in societies emerging from repressive rule or armed conflict, as well as in established democracies where historical injustices or systemic abuse remain unresolved. For more information, visit www.ictj.org.