A Letter on Behalf of Human Rights to President-elect Trump by Kenneth Roth
November 23, 2016
President-elect of the United States of America
735 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Dear President-elect Trump:
I write to you on behalf of Human Rights Watch to urge you to repudiate and rescind pledges and policy proposals you made in the course of the presidential election campaign that if implemented by your administration would violate fundamental human rights and be deeply damaging to millions of people in the United States and abroad.
While you have recently stepped back from some of these proposals, suggesting that certain campaign promises were merely ideas or opening bids in a negotiation, none has been clearly and unequivocally retracted. In particular, statements that indicate backtracking from US human rights commitments and the rule of law threaten the well-being of people within the United States and US standing in the world. Even leaving positions on issues ambiguous can have a lasting corrosive effect.
Accordingly, we believe it imperative that you explicitly retract the following proposals that would violate or threaten core human rights under US law or the international legal obligations of the United States.
Reinstating Torture and Targeting Civilians
Torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment violates US law, including the federal torture statute and the War Crimes Act. It also violates long-recognized protections under the laws of war, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
Reinstating any sort of interrogation program that involves torture, including waterboarding, or ill-treatment will expose senior administration officials and US military personnel to criminal liability within the US and abroad. Any legal opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel or other department attempting to justify torture will be legally void. It will put legal counsel involved at risk of liability for conspiracy or related charges, and it will not serve to protect anyone purporting to rely on such an opinion that would so clearly not have been rendered in good faith.
You recently suggested that after speaking with military leaders, you have come to realize that torture might not be as effective as you had previously thought. This is an important acknowledgment but you should state unequivocally that your glen brown: A Letter on Behalf of Human Rights to President-elect Trump by Kenneth Roth: