The Center for Victims of Torture™ (CVT) hails the passing today of anti-torture legislation by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in the U.S. Senate. This amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2016 strengthens U.S. prohibitions on torture by placing U.S. government interrogations under the U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogations and requiring access to all prisoners in U.S. custody by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The amendment passed the Senate with a vote of 78-21.
“This is a huge victory in affirming that opposition to torture is not a partisan issue,” said Melina Milazzo, senior policy counsel for CVT. “Today, an overwhelmingly bi-partisan group of U.S. senators sent a clear message to future presidents and the rest of the world: The United States will never sidestep our laws and values for a brutal and counterproductive torture program again.”
Milazzo added, “This will also help mend some of the damage done to the global anti-torture movement and survivors’ healing worldwide. Many survivors of torture look to the U.S. for principled support and leadership on human rights and the global fight against torture.”
The bi-partisan amendment introduced by Senator John McCain, a torture survivor himself, was supported by 77 of his fellow Republican and Democratic colleagues, and will ensure that no U.S. government agency will ever employ torture tactics such as waterboarding , forced nudity, mock executions and other cruelty, nor ever operate secret “black sites.”
“Today’s vote is a critical step towards strengthening U.S. laws banning torture, but it also is an unequivocal affirmation across party lines that the United States should never return to the dark side,” said Milazzo. “The Senate has resoundingly stated that the United States will not tolerate torture.”
As part of the NDAA, the legislation now moves to be conferenced with the House version of the NDAA before getting to the President’s desk.