UN investigator urges probe of alleged US torture

Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:09pm GMT

* U.N. says "torture practices" under Bush not continuing

* But Obama administration has failed to investigate

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 26 (Reuters) - A U.N. torture investigator said President Barack Obama has ended harsh interrogations that were commonplace during the Bush era but an independent probe is needed of U.S. practices since 2001.

"There is a major difference between the Bush and the Obama administration," Manfred Nowak told reporters on Tuesday. "To my knowledge, the torture practices under the Bush administration are not anymore continuing."

Nowak, an Austrian human rights lawyer who has been U.N. special rapporteur on torture for six years, called for an investigation of all allegations of U.S. torture and collusion with states that use torture since the fight against militants began in earnest after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

Nowak was an outspoken critic of the Bush administration, above all for what he described as the "illegal" military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and secret transfers of suspected militants to third countries where prisoners were routinely tortured -- a practice known as "extraordinary rendition."

"I'm not receiving allegations -- and I received them during the Bush administration on a more or less daily basis -- of torture, ill treatment (and) rendition flights to countries that are torturing," he said.

Nowak said Obama, who took office in January 2009, appeared to be sincere in his desire to shut down the widely criticized Guantanamo Bay prison but had been impeded by Congress, governors of states who refused to let detainees be transferred and a lack of help from European nations.   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.