Nobel Peace Prize Winners Press Obama to Take Firmer Stand against Torture

Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Nobel Laureates Desmond Tutu and Barack Obama (AP photo)

A group of Nobel Peace Prize winners has urged their fellow laureate, President Barack Obama, to disclose the United States’ history of using torture against terrorism suspects.


Led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and former President José Ramos-Horta of East Timor, the Nobel laureates want Obama, who won the prize in 2009, to make “full disclosure to the American people of the extent and use of torture.”


That would include releasing the report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of torture last decade against al Qaeda members and others. That report has been held up over disagreements between Democratic senators who want to expose the activities of the CIA’s secret rendition program and the CIA, which has tried to avoid more critical revelations about its agents and contractors who abducted and interrogated detainees. Obama has stood by the CIA in the dispute, causing the report to remain unpublished.


“It remains to be seen whether the United States will turn a blind eye to the effects of its actions on its own people and on the rest of the world, or if it will take the necessary steps to recover the standards on which the country was founded, and to once again adhere to the international conventions it helped to bring into being,” the Nobel laureates wrote. 


“When a nation’s leaders condone and even order torture, that nation has lost its way,” they added.


Those who joined Tutu and Ramos-Horta were Mohammad ElBaradei of Egypt, who was awarded the Peace Prize in 2005; Leymah Gbowee, Liberia, 2011; Muhammad Yunus, Bangladesh, 2006; Óscar Arias Sanchez, Costa Rica, 1987; John Hume, Northern Ireland, 1998; F. W. de Klerk, South Africa, 1993; Jody Williams, United States, 1997; Bishop Carlos X. Belo, East Timor, 1996; Betty Williams, Northern Ireland, 1976; and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Argentina, 1980.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Peace Prize Laureates Urge Disclosure on U.S. Torture (by Charlie Savage, New York Times)

Nobel Peace Prize Winners Call on Obama to Reckon With Torture (by Hina Shamsi, American Civil Liberties Union)

Judge Gives Obama Administration until December to Justify Withholding 2,100 Photos of U.S. Use of Torture in Iraq and Afghanistan (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Obama Refuses to Turn Over 9,400 CIA Torture and Interrogation Documents to Congress  (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

U.N. Calls on Obama to Publish Findings on Bush-Era Torture (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Obama: Torture Okay if Just Following Orders (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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