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UN urges release of CIA torture report U.S. NO LONGER HOLDS ‘WAR ON TERROR’ MINORS

GENEVA, March 14, (Agencies): A United Nations human rights watchdog called on the United States on Thursday to release a report on a Bush-era interrogation programme at the heart of a dispute between the CIA and a Senate panel. Critics, including experts on the UN civil and political rights panel, say the CIA programme set up after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States included harsh interrogation methods that constituted torture banned by international law.

The UN Human Rights Committee began a two-day examination of the US record on Thursday, its first scrutiny since 2006, attended by nearly 80 activist groups. “It would appear that a Senator Dianne Feinstein claims that the computers of the Senate have been hacked into in the context of this investigation,” Victor Manuel Rodriguez-Rescia, a committee member from Costa Rica, told the US delegation. “In the light of this, we would like hear a commitment that this report will be disclosed, will be made public and therefore be de-classified so that we the committee can really analyse what follow-up you have given to these hearings.” Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein said on Monday the CIA may have broken the law by spying on Congress, searching computers used by staffers researching operations including the use of simulated drowning or waterboarding.

CIA Director John Brennan denied the agency had engaged in such spying activities on the Senate committee. Akey issue is how the Senate committee acquired what Feinstein and others describe as the CIA’s own internal review of its interrogation tactics and secret prisons, and its use of “rendition”, a practice by which prisoners are transferred between countries without formal judicial process. Activists welcomed the watchdog’s efforts to shine a light on what they say was an illegal programme under President George W. Bush that included water-boarding. The Obama administration has disowned and condemned such methods. “There is no reason to keep the programme secret other than to protect people involved in illegal conduct,” Andrea Prasow of Human Rights Watch told Reuters after the session. UN watchdog body on Thursday began a review of the United States’ human rights record, quizzing officials on National Security Agency surveillance, the “war on terror” and racism in the justice system.

The 18-member UN Human Rights Committee fired question after question during a session on Washington’s respect for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Swiss legal expert Walter Kaelin, at the helm of the probe, welcomed a report by Washington on the issue. “They do not shy away from setting out clearly certain shortcomings,” Kaelin said as the two-day session got underway. But he and fellow experts urged Washington to shed light on probes of the alleged use of torture techniques such as “waterboarding” during the “war on terror”, the status of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan, and civilian deaths. In addition, they raised concerns about the extent of NSA surveillance, which has made global headlines since fugitive former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden exposed it in 2013.

They also pressed for more information on efforts to tackle the disproportionate number of members of minority groups in prison, as well as racial profiling of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians, and law enforcement abuses against illegal migrants. And they sought more detail on the use of the death penalty, notably in cases involving minorities or convicts with mental disabilities. Kaelin also said a more thorough approach was required to assess whether international rights rules are correctly set down in the law of and applied by the 50 individual US states. Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights programme, said he hoped the session would address Washington’s “serious gaps between its rhetoric and practice”. “The US shortcomings are being highlighted by the committee’s sharp questions on everything from drone killings and NSA surveillance to the humane treatment of immigrants and prisoners, especially discrimination against minorities,” he told AFP in Geneva. “This review provides the United States an opportunity to reverse course, remedy rights violations, and take concrete actions like declassifying the Senate report on CIA torture,” he said. Meanwhile, the United States is no longer

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