National Lawyers Guild International Committee

Working Group on Torture


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About the Working Group on Torture

Contact information

Working Group on Torture Accountability

The Constitution requires the President to enforce the law against both the petty thief who stole salmon from the market, and the CIA agent who tortured or abused a prisoner.

Our law prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and requires that those who subject people to such treatment be prosecuted. The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment compels us to refer all torture cases for prosecution or extradite the suspect to a country that will undertake a criminal investigation. The Geneva Conventions proclaim an "obligation" to bring those who have committed torture and cruel treatment before our "own courts." The Torture Convention and the Geneva Conventions are both part of U.S. law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which says, "all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land." Two federal statutes the Torture Statute and the War Crimes Act (torture is a war crime) - provide for life imprisonment and even the death penalty if the victim dies from torture. 

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