The ICRC is aware of the proposed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016 entitled "Strengthening the Prohibition on Torture," which was submitted by Senators McCain, Feinstein, Reed and Collins.
While the ICRC does not engage in lobbying and therefore cannot take an official position, the amendment addresses two issues of central concern to the ICRC: preventing torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in detention, and ICRC notification and access to persons detained in relation to armed conflict. As such, and as the guardians of the Geneva Conventions, we take this opportunity to reiterate our established position on these topics:
1) The ICRC has long advocated for the repudiation and rejection of torture, which, along with cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, are clearly illegal. As the ICRC stated here, the prohibition of torture, and all forms of ill-treatment, is absolute – everywhere and at all times. It is strictly forbidden by the Geneva Conventions, the United Nations Convention against Torture, international human rights law, and customary international humanitarian law.
2) Likewise, ICRC access to people detained in armed conflicts is provided for in the Geneva Conventions and under customary international humanitarian law. We therefore seek such access around the world, and in 2014 visited more than 800,000 people held in 1,600 places of detention in over 90 countries. Article 126 of the Third Geneva Convention and Articles 76 and 143 of the Fourth Geneva Convention mandate that States grant access to the ICRC to Prisoners of War and other protected persons deprived of their liberty during times of international armed conflict. During situations of non-international armed conflict, the ICRC has the right of initiative to offer its services to the parties to the conflict with a view to visiting all detainees held in relation to the conflict, as provided for under Common Article 3 and the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The ICRC encourages all endeavors to comply with international law with respect to humane treatment and the prohibition against torture, as well as to granting ICRC notification of and access to persons detained in relation to armed conflict.