Sunday, December 11, 2005


TERRORISM: TORTURE IS AN INSTRUMENT OF TERROR, SAYS ANNAN: "New York, 9 Dec. (AKI) - Torture can never be an instrument to fight terror because it is an instrument of terror, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said, in his annual Human Rights Day message. He decried the recent trend of countries claiming exceptions to the international prohibition against the practice and called for all states to honour the legally established ban on torture and to vigorously combat the impunity of those who perpetrate it.

He also urged all countries that have not yet done so to ratify the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The message also urges all states to give 'independent access to detainees within their control,' to the UN expert on torture.

Last month, five independent United Nations human rights experts, including the Special Rapporteur on torture, rejected a United States invitation to visit its detention base in Guantanamo, Cuba, because Washington did not accept standard terms for a ?credible, objective and fair assessment,? including their ability to conduct private interviews with detainees.

The Secretary-General, in his message on Human Rights Day, observed annually on 10 December, says unlimited access is an essential protection for individuals in detention because their isolation makes them especially vulnerable to abuse. ?Together, we must give voice, and redress, to abused detainees as well as to all victims and survivors of torture,? he says.

Acknowledging that the threat of terror is ?real and immediate,? he nevertheless points out that fear of terrorists can never justify adopting their methods. ?Let us be clear: torture can never be an instrument to fight terror, for torture is an instrument of terror,? he declares.

Broadening this argument, the Secretary-General warned against complacency over cruel and inhuman punishment, which tends to disproportionately affect imprisoned, politically powerless and economically deprived people. ?Instead, we must respond to this evil wherever we find it by reaffirming humanity?s most basic values,? Annan said in the message.

His Human Rights Day message also coincides with growing pressure on the US government over reports of secret CIA-run prisons in Eastern Europe and hundreds of 'ghost' flights flying in and out of European airports, thought to have been transporting terror suspects to countries where they may suffer torture. US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has spent most of her European tour this week defending the US administration against such claims."

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