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UN expert sees US interrogation law setting standard

Written by: Staff
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GENEVA, Oct 27 (Reuters) Washington's new law allowing tough interrogation techniques and military trials for terrorism suspects risks setting a dangerous standard for other countries to follow, a United Nations rights expert said today.

Martin Scheinin, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, said he was concerned about the impact the US Military Commissions Act would have abroad.

''Some governments may view certain aspects of this legislation as an example that could be followed in their national counter-terrorism legislation,'' the Finnish jurist said in a statement released in Geneva.

Washington will continue a secret CIA programme for interrogating terrorism suspects whom President George W Bush Bush argues could have vital information needed to thwart future plots against the United States.

Bush, who signed the law last week, says the legislation will enable the United States to bring to trial some of those believed to be behind the September 11 attacks.

But human rights groups charge that the measure, likely to face legal challenges that go up as far as the Supreme Court, would allow harsh techniques bordering on torture, such as sleep deprivation and induced hypothermia.

The White House has refused to describe what techniques will be allowed and Bush says the United States does not torture.

Scheinin repeated his interest in meeting US officials to discuss the links between counter-terrorism and international human rights.

A formal request for a country visit sent in July has not yet been answered, he said.

REUTERS PDM RN1640

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