Renditions: Constraints Imposed by Laws on Torture [Updated January 17, 2007]   [open pdf - 180KB]

"This report discusses relevant international and domestic law restricting the transfer of persons to foreign states for the purpose of torture. The U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and its domestic implementing legislation (the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998) impose the primary legal restrictions on the transfer of persons to countries where they would face torture. Both CAT and U.S. implementing legislation generally prohibit the rendition of persons to countries in most cases where they would more likely than not be tortured, though there are arguably limited exceptions to this prohibition. The State Department has taken the position that CAT's provisions concerning the transfer of persons do not apply extra-territorially, though as a matter of policy the United States does not transfer anyone in its custody to a country where they would face torture (U.S. regulations and statutes implementing CAT, however, arguably limit the extraterritorial transfer of individuals nonetheless). Under U.S. regulations implementing CAT, a person may be transferred to a country that provides credible assurances that the rendered person will not be tortured. Neither CAT nor implementing legislation prohibits the rendition of persons to countries where they would be subject to harsh interrogation techniques not rising to the level of torture. Besides CAT, additional obligations may be imposed upon U.S. rendition practice via the Geneva Conventions, the War Crimes Act (as amended by the Military Commissions Act (P.L. 109-366)), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL32890
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