WASHINGTON, DC – Today the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) that prevents the use of federal funds to in contravention of the Convention Against Torture, as well as various laws and regulations to implement the Convention’s restrictions on the practice of torture or other cruel or degrading treatment or punishment.  These laws include the McCain amendment, which was approved by Congress last year, but which the President in a signing statement seemed to suggest that he might disregard.  The House passed the Markey amendment to the defense spending bill, which is being debated this afternoon. 

Below is Rep. Markey’s statement urging passage of his amendment:

Mr. Speaker, I have an amendment at the desk.

The amendment I am offering today is a simple one: it serves to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the Convention Against Torture.  It does this by prohibiting the use of funds in contravention of laws and regulations promulgated to implement the Convention Against Torture.

This may all seem very familiar, as I offered essentially the same amendment to three appropriations bills on this floor last year.  Each time the amendment passed, with near unanimity. 

Since those votes, we passed Senator McCain’s amendment prohibiting cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment detainees into law.

But the President’s signing statement for that bill left open the possibility that the Administration would choose to ignore the plain intent of Congress.  This House cannot and should not allow the Administration to get away with simply ignoring laws enacted by Congress.  This is particularly the case with the issue of torture, where the international reputation of our nation is at stake.

In addition to refraining from the practice of torture or other cruel or degrading treatment ourselves, we must also not outsource such odious practices to other nations under a policy of so-called “extraordinary rendition.”

We should not be undermining our leadership on international human rights by outsourcing torture.  

And make no mistake: that’s what this government is doing when it carries out renditions to notorious human rights violators, it’s outsourcing torture.  

I urge you to vote YES on this amendment.

For more information on Markey’s work on rendition, please go to: http://markey.house.gov/

June 20, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein
or Jeff Duncan