Apr 22, 2009

Issue of torture is related to the femicides of Juarez and Chihuahua City


By Diana Washington Valdez

Torture is a moral issue

The U.S. government under its new president, Barack Obama, has reached an important juncture on the issue of torture. It must decide and declare whether torture to extract information from suspects in official custody is ever justified.

Regular law enforcement officers are not permitted to torture suspects during questioning. Regular people who torture another human being are subject to prosecution for violating laws against assault and injury.

It is a documented fact that Mexican law enforcement officers applied torture in several of the investigations of people suspected of killing women in Juarez and Chihuahua City. One of the victims of this practice was Cynthia Kiecker, an American woman who, along with her husband, Ulises Perzabal,was accused of killing a young woman in Chihuahua City. They were taken into custody and tortured into confessing to a crime they did not commit. Eighteen months later, and after intervention by activists and U.S. authorities, they were exonerated and set free.

Some of the activists involved in seeking justice for the slain women have criticized the U.S. authorities for looking the other way when it came to the murders and disappearances of girls and young women in Mexico.Perhaps the United States considered it politically unacceptable to discourage other countries from torturing people in police custody while the White House was justifying the practice for terrorist suspects in U.S. custody.
Each year, the U.S. State Department issues a report on human rights conditions in countries around the world. In some of these reports, the U.S. government has condemned torture and extrajudicial executions by security forces in other countries.

The torture issue that confronts Obama can derail the United States from its historic role as a champion for human rights. Our great nation should not turn off its lantern for the sake of expediency.

At a fundamental level, whether or not to torture implies a moral decision; it is an issue of right or wrong, one which cannot be negotiated into something less than that. And, to argue that the use of water-boarding and other similar techniques on human beings does not constitute torture is to join the ranks of those who minimize the murders of women from poor families in Mexico and other countries and who deny the Nazi Holocaust took place.- April 22, 2009.