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Destruction of CIA interrogation tapes raises torture suspicions: UN rights expert

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin [official website; JURIST news archive] said Thursday that the destruction of CIA videotapes suggests that US interrogators may have violated international prohibitions against torture. Scheinin told reporters after the presentation of his latest report [summary] to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that he believes the CIA continues to use interrogation methods prohibited by international law, but did not offer any specific evidence. CIA Director Michael Hayden has denied that the destroyed tapes depicted torture. Hayden acknowledged [statement text] last week that the CIA had videotaped the interrogation [JURIST report] of two terror suspects in 2002, but said that the tapes had been destroyed in 2005 amid concerns that they could be leaked to the public and compromise the identities of the interrogators. Several probes into the tapes' destruction have been launched, including a joint DOJ-CIA preliminary investigation [DOJ letter; JURIST report] and multiple congressional inquiries. AP has more.

Scheinin recently completed a visit to Guantanamo Bay, after which he expressed "grave concern" [press release] over the "lack of judicial guarantees and fair trial procedures" for detainees facing military commission proceedings there. In a report to the UN Human Rights Council, Scheinin also expressed concern regarding difficulties detainees face in presenting evidence in their defense. In May, Scheinin said that the US has committed human rights violations in its interrogations of terror suspects; in October, he called on the US to quickly prosecute or release terror suspects [JURIST report] so the detention center might be closed.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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