Gonzaga Law Hosts Speakers and Commentary on The Legal Obligation to Prevent Torture

September 01, 2017

The presentation was scheduled to coincide with the trial in Salim et al v. Mitchell et al.¸ 2:15-cv-00286-JLQ, originally set for September 5, 2017, to further the debate in the legal case about whether the plaintiff detainees were tortured and whether the Spokane psychologists who consulted with the CIA on interrogation techniques legally aided and abetted that torture. The case has settled but the issues that it illuminates are still, unfortunately, urgent matters around the world and within the United States.

The September 6 presentation at Gonzaga Law, “The Legal Obligation to Prevent and Prosecute Torture,” features United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, who will deliver the presentation’s keynote address. In early 2017, Méndez was elected Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva, Switzerland and was named a member of the Selection Committee to appoint magistrates of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and members of the Truth Commission set up as part of the Colombian Peace Accords. Méndez is a widely respected as an authority on and advocate for the enforcement of international and national laws against torture. He is currently a Professor in Residence of Human Rights Law at the Washington College of Law in Washington, DC.

After Professor Méndez’s remarks, Lisa Hajjar, a Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara with courtesy appointments in the Global and International Studies and Middle East studies departments, will provide commentary on the politics of accountability for torture. Hajjar has stated that, “Accountability is not only legally important, it is also politically important to demonstrate respect for the anti-torture norm. The US torture policy and the lack of accountability has had deleterious effects globally.” She plans to focus her comments on efforts in the United States and abroad to pursue accountability and place the case against the two Spokane psychologists, James Mitchel and Bruce Jessen, in this context.

Also providing commentary is Gonzaga Law’s own Upendra Acharya, Associate Professor of Law who specializes in international, constitutional, administrative, and comparative law. He will address the geographic scope of the Convention against Torture as a legal matter and will provide a structural analysis of the dual nature of the violations of the Convention against Torture that need to be interpreted against the broader background of geographical context.

There will be time provided for audience questions. The presentation will be held on September 6, 2017 from 5:00pm-7:00pm in the Gonzaga Law Barbieri Court Room.