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Obama Administration to Appear Before Int'l Human Rights Body

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March 19, 2009

Earlier this week, The New York Times carried an op-ed by Mark Danner that exposed the horrific treatment of 14 detainees held in U.S. custody at black sites overseas and in Guantánamo. Danner’s piece created quite a stir, and prompted renewed calls for investigations and prosecutions for Bush administration detention and interrogation policies.

Tomorrow, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold a hearing on accountability for torture and other human rights abuses committed by the U.S. government. This will be the first time the Obama administration will appear before an international human rights body to present its views on accountability measures for human rights violations committed by the previous administration.

The ACLU will be at the IACHR hearing as part of a delegation which will include the Center for Constitutional Rights and Human Rights USA to testify and answer questions about human rights abuses committed by Bush administration officials after 9/11, and the U.S. government’s legal obligations to investigate, prosecute and punish human rights violations committed by U.S. officials.

By now, we all know of the gross violations of human rights committed by former administration officials — including public admissions of culpability by former President Bush and Vice President Cheney. The ACLU has worked tirelessly to shed some light on these abuse practices through our Freedom of Information Act cases — over the past year, through one Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the government released several secret memos, and the ACLU continues to seek the disclosure of many others. In light of this and other evidence like it, the Obama administration should initiate independent criminal investigations and prosecute those found responsible for breaking the law.

The ACLU has called for a congressional select committee investigation into the Bush administration abuses. And on Tuesday, the ACLU sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for the appointment of an independent prosecutor to investigate, and, if the evidence calls for it, prosecute any violations of federal criminal laws related to interrogation of detainees.

You can watch tomorrow’s IACHR hearing live via webcast, from 3:15-4:15 p.m. EDT, at