Human Rights

POSTED AT 2:39 PM EDT from The Globe and Mail Wednesday, April 10, 2002

United States assailed over torturers

Reuters News Agency
Washington At least 150 suspected torturers from other countries are living in the United States, despite a U.S. law that allows for prosecution for committing torture anywhere in the world, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. In one case, the rights group said the Immigration and Naturalization Service granted citizenship to a former Ethiopian government official after a U.S. court concluded that he had committed acts of torture and ordered him to pay $1.5-million (U.S.) in civil damages.

Kelbessa Negewo resides in the United States, said Amnesty USA's executive director, William Schulz."What message do we send when we use our military to fight terrorism and apprehend terrorists in remote corners of the world and yet refuse to use our judicial system to apprehend torturers right here at home?" Mr. Schulz asked. "Amnesty International calls for the Bush administration to arrest and extradite or prosecute torturers in the United States."

In a report titled "United States of America: Safe Haven for Torturers," the group said about 400,000 victims of human-rights abuses or torture are living in the United States. The group said it had identified but would not disclose the names of at least 150 people suspected of committing acts of torture or other human rights abuses who are also living in the United States, in many cases with INS permission.

The report did identify 13 individuals, most already publicly identified, as suspects in human rights violations in nine countries, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chile and Haiti. The U.S. Congress passed legislation in 1994 making torture committed anywhere in the world a criminal offense in the United States, the group noted.

The United States is also a party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which requires governments to take into custody any person alleged to have committed torture, and, if warranted, either prosecute or extradite the suspect. "It is clearly past time for the United States to send an unequivocal message that there will be no safe haven for torturers within our borders," Schulz said.

On Tuesday, Amnesty said governments worldwide had shot, electrocuted and hanged more than 3,000 of their citizens last year, more than double the total executed in 2000, including 66 in the United States.

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