(Washington) - United States Helsinki Commission Chairman Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) and Co-Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) will introduce tomorrow resolutions condemning the use of torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment.
“The use of torture is an egregious human rights abuse,” Chairman Campbell said. “As a former deputy sheriff, I am well aware of the role integrity plays in any criminal justice system. Torture and other cruelties not only injure people, the practice undermines any criminal justice system which tolerates it. The United States Congress can continue to play a leadership role by signaling our unwavering condemnation of this outrageous practice.”
“Torture is a dangerous problem in many countries,” Co-Chairman Smith said. “In the worst cases, torture occurs not merely from rogue elements among police departments or a lack of appropriate training among law enforcement personnel. Torture is systematically used by controlling regimes to target political opposition members, ethnic or religious minorities, and others. ”
The identical resolutions are being introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives in conjunction with the International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture, observed each year on June 26. The resolutions express support for all victims of torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment who are struggling to overcome the physical scars and psychological effects of such practices.
The resolutions encourage the training of law enforcement personnel who are involved in the custody, interrogation, or treatment of individuals arrested, detained, or imprisoned.
The Secretary of State is encouraged to seek, at relevant international fora, the adoption of a commitment to treat as inadmissible in any legal proceeding confessions and other evidence obtained through torture and to prohibit, in law and in practice, incommunicado detention.
Original co-sponsors of the resolutions are Ranking Member Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT), Commissioners Senator Russell D. Feingold (D-WI), Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Ranking Member Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), Commissioners Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL). Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) is also a co-sponsor.
The United States Helsinki Commission, an independent federal agency, by law monitors and encourages progress in implementing provisions of the Helsinki Accords. The Commission, created in 1976, is composed of nine Senators, nine Representatives and one official each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.