Tags: Barack Obama | George W. Bush | Barack Obama | Bush administration | prisoners | treatment

Obama to Reverse Bush Policy on Prisoner Treatment

Image: Obama to Reverse Bush Policy on Prisoner Treatment
(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 12 Nov 2014 12:23 PM

President Barack Obama intends to change the interpretation of a treaty ban on cruel treatment which will restrict the way the United States can treat prisoners in certain places around the globe, the administration is expected to tell the United Nations Wednesday.

The current torture treaty does not have any geographic limitations but its ban on "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment," which falls short of torture, "in any territory under its jurisdiction" is ambiguous. Officials told The New York Times that the new interpretation will change the Bush administration's belief that it does not apply abroad.

The Bush administration took the view that the ban only applied domestically.

The Obama administration is now taking the view that the cruelty ban is applicable wherever the United States has governmental authority, such as the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as vessels and aircraft that are abroad.

Nevertheless, the administration's definition will likely continue to exclude "black site" prisons, where terrorist suspects were tortured in CIA interrogations during the Bush era, and in U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq during those wars, the Times reported.

Debate about whether to change the interpretation, however, is continuing within the administration as it considers the possible impact of the changes.

A reinterpretation, for example, could lead to more lawsuits by detainees abroad and could impact the interpretation of unrelated treaties with similar jurisdictional language.

Human rights activists have publicly welcomed the move, as have a group of Democratic senators.

"It is crucial that the United States signals to the world that we have to put the dark chapter of the Bush administration's torture program behind us, and are not seen as attempting to leave open the possibility of using so-called enhanced interrogation techniques ever again," Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy, and Richard Durbin wrote in a joint letter.

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President Barack Obama intends to change the interpretation of a treaty ban on cruel treatment which will restrict the way the United States can treat prisoners in certain places around the globe, the administration is expected to tell the United Nations Wednesday.
Barack Obama, Bush administration, prisoners, treatment
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2014-23-12
Wednesday, 12 Nov 2014 12:23 PM
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