13 March 2014
UN Special Rapporteur on torture denounces use of torture-tainted information by states
States that condemn torture while using information and products obtained through the practice in other countries are hypocritical, according to UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment Juan Méndez, saying ‘[g]overnments cannot condemn the evil of torture and other ill-treatment at the international level while condoning it at the national level’. He told the Human Rights Council that any use of torture-tainted information, even if the torture has been committed by agents of another state, is an act of acquiescence in torture that compromises the user-state’s responsibility and leads to individual and state complicity in acts of torture.
Mr. Méndez underlined that ‘[t]his absolute and non-derogable prohibition also applies to collecting, sharing and receiving torture-tainted information between States during intelligence gathering or covert operations,’ adding that states should ‘refrain from allowing torture-tainted evidence in judicial proceedings or by creating a market for torture-tainted information.’ He regretted that states’ refusal to subject the work of their intelligence/security agencies to scrutiny and/or international oversight ‘leads to the erroneous conclusion that executive collecting, sharing and receiving of torture-tainted information is not subject to international law.’