From correspondents in Geneva
THE United Nations committee against torture told the United States today it should close any secret prisons abroad and the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba, saying they violated international law.
The 10 independent experts, who examined the US record at home and abroad, also urged President George W Bush's administration to "rescind any interrogation technique" that constituted torture or cruel treatment, citing use of dogs to terrify detainees.
The United States "should ensure that no one is detained in any secret detention facility under its de facto effective control" and "investigate and disclose the existence of any such facilities," said the committee, which has moral authority but no legal power to enforce its recommendations.
"Detaining persons in such conditions constitutes, per se, a violation of the Convention," said the committee which examines compliance with the UN Convention against Torture, or other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The United States is holding hundreds of terrorism suspects, most arrested since al-Qaeda's September 11 attacks in 2001, at its prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. It refuses to comment on allegations of secret jails.
Washington, which sent 30 senior officials to Geneva in early May for the committee's hearings, defended its treatment of foreign terrorism suspects held abroad, saying there had been "relatively few actual cases of abuse".
Human rights groups have accused the United States of mistreating detainees through cruel interrogation methods including "water-boarding"', a form of mock drowning.
In its findings, the committee voiced concern at "reliable reports of acts of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" by US military or civilian personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"The state party (the United States) should take immediate measures to eradicate all forms of torture and ill-treatment of detainees by its military or civilian personnel ... and should promptly and thoroughly investigate such acts and prosecute all those responsible...," it said.
All detainees should be registered and a record kept of the time and place of interrogations, according to the body which told the United States that it should report back in a year.
FPSS comment: This adds further weight to the illegality of David Hick's incarceration and future trial, given the methods of extracting statements. It also puts Australia in clear contravention of International law by exposing a citizen to such a facility.
BRING HOME DAVID HICKS!