Tags: united | nations | gitmo

U.N. Threatens Prosecution of Rumsfeld, Bush Over Gitmo

Wednesday, 03 Jun 2009 02:15 PM

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GENEVA — Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could be in trouble soon for the role he played in human rights abuses committed in the Guantanamo prison, a United Nations expert said Wednesday.

"In a year or two, his responsibilities will be established. Wherever he goes, he will face difficulties," Leandro Despouy, who is special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, told journalists in Geneva.

A bipartisan Senate report released late last year found Rumsfeld and other top administration officials responsible for abuse of Guantanamo detainees.

It said Rumsfeld authorized harsh interrogation techniques on Dec. 2, 2002, at the Guantanamo prison, although he ruled them out a month later.

Despouy said the "strong resistance" of the Bush administration to President Barack Obama's decision to close the detention center has nothing to do with the officially cited reason of "national security" considerations.

Rather, they fear they may be taken to task once the detention centre is closed, said Despouy.

The U.N. expert urged the international community to back Obama's decision to close the prison.

"If we act in the perspective of human rights, we should support the efforts of those who want these responsibilities to be established," he added, referring to the harsh interrogation techniques used on the detainees.

The international community should take in former detainees to help the United States.

Obama has said he would close the notorious "war on terror" prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba by January 2010 and is seeking host states for up to 60 of the 245 inmates.

The Obama administration faces a series of legal and political hurdles in its efforts to close the base, with strong opposition against releasing detainees into the United States.

In January, the U.N.'s special torture rapporteur called on the United States to pursue Rumsfeld and former President George W. Bush for torture and bad treatment of Guantanamo prisoners.

"Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation" to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak said, in remarks broadcast on Germany's ZDF television.

He noted Washington had ratified the UN convention on torture which required "all means, particularly penal law" to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it.

Copyright © 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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