ICTJ provides an overview of various United States Commissions of Inquiry. This publication includes briefs on the Senate and House Committee Investigations of the Palmer Raids in 1920, the Senator Frank Church Committee in 1975, a commission into wartime relocation and internment of civilians in 1980, the 9/11 Commission, and more.
In the U.S., the democratic principle that openness in government can act as an important check against the possibility of government abuse has been steadily undermined. A critical information gap, only partially addressed through fragmented investigative efforts within and outside government, leaves important questions unanswered, such as how and by whom abuse has been authorized and carried out, on what scale and with what human and policy consequences.
States have the obligation to prevent human rights violations, investigate them, identify and punish their intellectual authors and accessories after the fact, and may not invoke existing provisions of domestic law to avoid complying with their obligations under international law.
To date there has been limited judicial accountability for crimes committed by the Indonesian military forces in Aceh despite compelling evidence of their involvement in mass crimes. Commitments that were part of the 2005 Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding, to establish a truth and reconciliation commission and a human rights court, have not been
While a pardon application process exists within the Department of Justice, the president is free to issue pardons without regard to the process and for any reason, including a desire to shield members of his administration and the military from investigations.
Examples of pardons in international jurisprudence, including Inter-American Court and Commission, European Court of Human Rights, UN Treaty Bodies, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Case studies on the use of pardons in Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Peru, and South Africa.
Recent speculation indicates that U.S. President George W. Bush may grant pardons to administration officials and members of the military who might face prosecution for authorizing, ordering, endorsing, justifying or committing acts pursuant to the “war on terror.” While a pardon application process exists within the Department of Justice, the president is free to issue pardons without regard to the process and for any reason, including a desire to shield members of his administration and the military from investigations.
ICTJ provides an overview of investigative reports into detention and interrogation practices by the U.S. government. The purpose of this brief is to provide a sampling of reports to survey the ways in which these have been commissioned, what they have covered, and how they relate to other, similar efforts within the same system.
Whether the government can lawfully rely on Exemption 7(F) of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(F), to withhold photographs depicting the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody without identifying with reasonable specificity any individuals who could reasonably be expected to be endangered by the photographs’ release.