May 9, 2006

Legal Adviser John Bellinger
Geneva, Switzerland
May 8, 2006

6 p.m.

The U.S. Government has welcomed the opportunity to appear before the Committee Against Torture on May 5 and 8 in order to present our second periodic report under the Convention Against Torture and participate in a dialogue with the Committee. All States Parties to the Convention are required to file periodic reports to the Committee, and the United States takes this obligation seriously.

In addition to a lengthy written report, which the U.S. Government submitted to the Committee in May 2005, the U.S. Government provided extensive written answers to the fifty-nine questions received in advance from the Committee. The U.S. delegation provided an oral summary of these responses during its presentation on May 5. The U.S. delegation received additional oral questions from the Committee on May 5 and provided answers to the Committee on May 8. Having completed its formal presentation to the Committee, and in the interest of the greatest transparency, the United States is pleased to make public the full United States Written Response to Questions Asked by the Committee Against Torture Get Acrobat Reader PDF version

In particular, our delegation appreciated the opportunity to answer questions from the Committee on several key policy and legal issues:

  • U.S. officials from all government agencies are prohibited from engaging in torture, at all times, and in all places. All U.S. officials, wherever they may be, are also prohibited from engaging in cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against any person in U.S. custody, as defined by our obligations under the Convention Against Torture.
  • Despite these prohibitions and mechanisms for enforcing them, some individuals have committed abuses against detainees being held as a result of our current armed conflict in Iraq and against Al Qaida and its affiliates. The United States Government deplores those abuses. The United States investigates all allegations of abuse vigorously and when they are substantiated, holds accountable the perpetrators.
  • The United States does not transfer persons to countries where it determines that it is more likely than not that they would be tortured.
  • All governments are imperfect because they are made up of human beings who are, by nature, imperfect. One of the great strengths of our nation is its ability to recognize its failures, deal with them, and act to make things better. The United States is committed to complying fully with the obligations it undertook freely in ratifying the Convention Against Torture, both at home and abroad.

The U.S. delegation hopes that the extensive written materials we have provided and our discussions with the Committee will assist the Committee in the preparation of its final report and recommendations. The United States looks forward to receiving the Committee's report and recommendations on May 19.

In addition to the U.S. delegation's meeting with the Committee, the head of the U.S. delegation, John Bellinger, Legal Adviser to the Secretary of State, met with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour. Mr. Bellinger and other members of the U.S. delegation also met with a large group of non-governmental organizations to hear their concerns and respond to their questions about our submissions to the Committee on Torture. Finally, Mr. Bellinger and other members of the delegation also had several useful discussions with President Kellenberger and other officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

[This is a mobile copy of U.S. Delegation Departure Statement]