UN official suggests US courts can still try accused torturers

The United Nation’s top torture investigator has suggested it is illegal under International law for President Barack Obama to announce that the United States government has no intention of prosecuting low-level CIA officers who carried out torture sanctioned by the Bush Administration.

President Barack Obama’s release on Thursday of four Bush administration memos sanctioning torture has been widely praised. However, word that government will go so far as to offer a fully-paid legal defense for agents who applied torture techniques to terror war prisoners has triggered loud criticism.

“Like all other contracting states to the UN convention against torture, the US has committed to conduct criminal investigations of torture and to bring all persons to court against whom there is sound evidence,” Manfred Nowak, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on torture, told Austrian weekly paper Der Standard.

“They are party to the convention and the convention is very, very clear,” Nowak told the paper. “The fact that you carried out an order doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility.”

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