ALL US government employees are prohibited from torturing detainees, US officials said yesterday in response to a UN panel's questions on its compliance with international human rights law.
The US delegation " in its first appearance before the UN Committee Against Torture in six years " was addressing a series of issues ranging from Washington's interpretation of the absolute ban on torture to its interrogation methods in prisons such as Abu Ghraib, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"US officials from all government agencies are prohibited from engaging in torture at all times and in all places,' said US State Department legal adviser John Bellinger III, who is leading the US delegation. "This is the case even in situations where the law of armed conflict applies.'
Bellinger explained that most of the "regrettable incidents or allegations' of detainee mistreatment had occurred several years ago and that laws, training and monitoring have since been improved.
"I say this not to minimise their significance, but to emphasise that, without question, our record …