US memo drafters were complicit in torture, UN torture monitor says

US memo drafters were complicit in torture, UN torture monitor says Vienna  - United States officials who drafted policies on harsh interrogation tactics for terrorism suspects should be prosecuted as accomplices in torture, the United Nation's monitor on torture Manfred Nowak said Friday in Vienna.

Nowak was reacting to the announcement by US President Barack Obama on Tuesday that he would let Attorney General Eric Holder, the chief of the the US Justice Department, decide whether to investigate those who drafted the legal memos during the Bush administration.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture criticized Obama last week for his decision not to prosecute CIA interrogators who justified their techniques with these memos.

"If you read them, and then see in what kind of detail specific torture methods such as water boarding, long-term isolation, stress positions, et cetera have been described there," Nowak said about the memos, "it kind of reminded me of the criminal procedure codes that were common in Europe during the Middle Ages."

Talking to reporters, Nowak argued that the US is bound to the UN Convention against torture, which mandates countries to prosecute acts of complicity or participation in torture, such as drafting the policies.

The Austrian human rights expert lauded Obama for abolishing the interrogation techniques and closing the Guantanamo prison camp and said he trusted the president to start a full investigation.

But if the US did not prosecute those responsible, all other countries that are party to the torture convention are obliged under the legal concept of "universal jurisdiction" to try US torturers and accomplices if they enter their territory, he said.

A US Senate committee is currently investigating the torture issue, but many Democrats would like to see an independent commission to probe the matter. (dpa)