Today, on the anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment coming into effect, I reaffirm the United States’ unequivocal ban on torture and opposition to all forms of inhumane treatment. Torture goes against everything we stand for as a nation, and we must never again resort to its use. The late-Senator John McCain, my friend and a torture survivor, put it best: “the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies—our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights, which are protected by international conventions the U.S. not only joined, but for the most part authored.”
Here are the facts. We know that torture is an ineffective method for gaining reliable intelligence. We know that it is prohibited universally, and violates U.S. and international law. We know that it spurs terrorist recruitment and violent extremism. And we know that it compromises our moral standing in the world.
On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we recognize the individuals and communities who endured the pain of torture, and I pledge the full efforts of the United States to eradicate torture in all its forms. As part of this effort, the United States has nominated a leading American legal expert to sit on the Committee Against Torture, which monitors implementation of the UN Convention, and I have requested the largest ever budget for the U.S. Survivors of Torture Program in HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. The United States also remains the largest contributor to the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture to aid human rights defenders, refugees, migrants and other groups, and we urge other governments to join us in supporting this critical lifeline for torture survivors.
Torture, wherever it occurs, is a stain on our moral conscience. We all must redouble our efforts to end such inhumane practice for good.