By Cynthia Banham,
Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU
The United States official left the UN Committee Against Torture in no doubt when he appeared before it last month: the US used torture as a matter of policy after 11 September 2001.
‘[W]e do not claim to be perfect,’ Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Tom Malinowski, told the Committee. ‘A little more than ten years ago, our government was employing interrogation methods that, as President Obama has said, any fair-minded person would believe were torture.’ In the same breath, Malinowski also noted that torture not only devastates its victims, but harms people and countries that use it and is employed to coerce false confessions – or to inflict suffering for its own sake.