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Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Conference on Torture and Terrorism

In the aftermath of 9/11, some Americans favored the use of unconventional methods to obtain information from suspected terrorists to prevent another major attack. But revelations emerging from U.S. detention centers in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan have transformed the use of torture into one of the most controversial issues of our time. Are such practices moral, legal, effective and sound policy? If not, how might they be challenged?

These will be among the questions addressed in "Torture and the War on Terror," a conference at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. The conference will take place Friday, October 7, from 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. at the law school, 11075 East Blvd. in Cleveland. It is free and open to the public, and CLE credit is available. The proceedings will be Webcast live at http://www.law.case.edu/centers/cox/content.asp?content_id=77.

The conference will conclude with the adoption of "The Cleveland Principles," a document containing 10 fundamental principles relating to interrogation and detention standards, signed by many of the conference speakers and other experts from around the world.

"In today’s climate, it is essential to find the proper balance between preserving security and upholding the rights of terrorism suspects," said Gerald Korngold, dean and McCurdy Professor of Law. "Helping society to find that balance is among the most important services the legal community can provide."

The conference features panels on "What’s Wrong with Torture," "Outsourcing Torture and Extraordinary Rendition," "The Role of International Law and Organizations in Suppressing Torture," "Adjudicating Torture in American Courts" and a debate on the White House "torture memos." Among the panelists will be:

  • Professor Jose Alvarez of Columbia University School of Law, president elect of the American Society of International Law
  • Admiral (ret.) John Hutson, former Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Navy, and plaintiffs’ attorney in the lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld
  • Justice Richard Goldstone, former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and Judge of the South Africa Constitutional Court
  • Professor William Schabas, member of the International Truth Commission for Sierra Leone
  • Andre Surena, former assistant legal adviser for human rights at the U.S. Department of State, who recently represented the United States in the case involving the Guantanamo Bay detainees before the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights
  • Andrew McCarthy, the lead prosecutor in the World Trade Center bombing case.
  • Elisa Massimino, Washington director and chief advocacy strategist for Human Rights First
  • DePaul University Law Professor Cherif Bassiouni, who was recently dismissed from his position as U.N. Rapporteur for Afghanistan following allegations of torture by U.S. forces

"The United States should have standards for interrogating enemy prisoners that are effective, lawful, and humane," says Case School of Law Professor Michael Scharf, conference co-chair and a nominee for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. "The Cleveland Principles are designed to supplement the legislation proposed by Senator John McCain, which is scheduled to be debated by Congress shortly after our conference," adds co-chair Amos Guiora, who directs Case’s Institute for Global Security Law and Policy (IGSLP).

The conference is sponsored by the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center and co-sponsored by the IGSLP. It has been designated as a centennial regional meeting of the American Society of International Law, a regional conference of the International Law Association (American Branch) and the annual meeting of the International Association of Penal Law (American National Section).

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