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CAT status Status under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment State Party since 21 October, 1994
Reviewed 2014 Read review

United States of America

At a glance

Enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments have been committed in the programme of detention and interrogation operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after the attacks of 11 September 2001. This included individuals held in the CIA retention program, as well as those subjected to US military detention at the Guantánamo naval base or in Afghanistan. In the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities, many « enemy combatants » continue to be held without charges.

Despite overwhelming evidence that crimes under International law occurred in the CIA programme, perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity. There is also an ongoing failure on the part of the USA to fully investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment of suspects held in the country’s custody abroad, evidenced by the limited number of criminal prosecutions and convictions and by the alleged destruction of torture evidence by CIA personnel.

Regarding immigration detention, despite the increased placement of unaccompanied children and separate children in foster care, many children continue to be held in group homes and secure facilities, which closely resemble juvenile correctional facilities. Regarding the general issue of detention, there is an extensive use of solitary confinement in USA prisons and other detention centres for indefinite periods of time. The widespread prevalence of sexual violence, including rape against children, is an alarming issue, as well as the even higher rate of sexual victimization reported by inmates with a history of mental health problems and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex, and questioning (LGBTIQ+) individuals.

The USA is also not considering abolishing the death penalty at the federal level. There are concerns at reported cases of excruciating pain and prolonged suffering that procedural irregularities have caused condemned prisoners in the course of their execution. Finally, police brutality and the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, in particular against persons belonging to certain racial and ethnic groups, is a systemic challenge faced by the government. The systematic use of electrical discharge weapons against unarmed individuals who resist arrest, resulting in death for many of them, is also a widespread issue.

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