FIACAT and European ACATs expressed there opposition on the Military Commissions Act, signed by the President of the United States on 17 October 2006 which authorises US agents to use torture in prosecuting the “war on terror”.
The 7 November 2006, they call on the European Union to:
remind the United States Government of its obligation to honour its international undertakings, and in particular the recommendations of the United Nations Committee Against Torture;
urge the United States Government to put an end to the detention without charge or trial of all “enemy combatants” held in zones placed under its effective control;
impress upon the United States Government the need to ensure that the detention and interrogation conditions of said detainees comply with the provisions of international law;
voice its firm opposition to the Act, which puts the absolute ban on torture at risk.
By adopting this Act, the United States is jeopardising the principle of the absolute ban on torture. President George W. Bush has stated that the Military Commissions Act complies with both the spirit and the letter of the United States’ international obligations. ACAT would take issue with this interpretation of an Act which:
deprives American courts of the opportunity to rule on the legality of the detention of an alien as an “enemy combatant” – a concept which is, at best, vague;
gives the US President the scope to determine whether or not the interrogation methods used on these prisoners qualify as torture as defined under Article 1 of the United Nations Convention against Torture;
seeks greater impunity for potential human rights violations by US agents against suspects ;
authorises the Secretary of Defence to refer trials to the Military Commissions with no guarantees as to their independence, impartiality or concern for the rights of the defence (especially as regards the refusal to withhold any evidence obtained through torture).
Therefore, FIACAT and European ACATs oppose the Military Commissions Act as a breach of international law and are appalled that a democratic country such as the United States should be able to legalise the unacceptable and employ the methods of the enemy it is combating.