United States: return to torture and “war on terror” abuses must be rejected

The ICJ deplores comments made last night by the United States President Donald Trump, expressing approval for the practice of torture in counter-terrorism operations.

The ICJ is also alarmed at reports that the US administration is considering resurrecting the most abusive policies and practices during the early 2000s, including prolonged arbitrary detention in CIA-administered secret “black site” facilities, enforced disappearance, and rendition to other countries for torture and ill-treatment.

“These practices of torturing detainees and ‘disappearing’ them in black sites are serious crimes which must never be repeated,” said Ian Seiderman, ICJ Legal and Policy Director.

“Even President Bush, despite his administration’s appalling record, publicly denounced torture as being against the laws and values of the United States,” he added.


Ian Seiderman, ICJ Legal and Policy Director, t: +41 22 979 3837 ; e: ian.seiderman(a)icj.org


During an interview on US television last night, President Trump repeated his support for torture practices such as waterboarding (near-drowning) and declared that “torture works.”

A number of media reports have indicated that the Trump Administration may issue an Executive Order to review “whether to reinitiate a program of interrogation of high-value alien terrorists to be operated outside the United States” and whether the CIA should be in charge of such a programme.

Counter-terrorism abuses during the Bush administration from 2001-08 involving torture, enforced disappearance, secret detention and rendition were widely condemned as unlawful, morally unacceptable, and ineffective, both internationally and in the US, leading to the abandonment of such practices.

A report by the Eminent Jurists Panel of the ICJ on Terrorism, Counter-terrorism and Human Rights, issued in 2009 conducted after a four-year study concluded that “such practices are not a legitimate response to the threat of terrorism. Such practices are not only inconsistent with established principles of international law, and undermine the values on which free and democratic societies are based, but as the lessons of history show, they put the possibility of short term gains from illegal actions, above the more enduring long term harm that they cause.”

The Obama administration definitively abolished the practices of torture and secret detention upon taking office in 2009, although they had already been substantially wound down in the later years of the second Bush administration.

NewsPress releases