Biden singles out Russia on world torture day

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden singled out “appalling brutality” by Russian authorities both at home and in occupied Ukraine in a statement yesterday marking the United Nations day for support of torture victims.

“Torture destroys lives, families, and communities. Yet, every day, people around the world are subjected to this horrific violation of their human rights and human dignity,” Biden said.

He cited “evidence of appalling brutality by members of Russia’s forces” in Ukraine.

“Patterns of abuse included torture to compel cooperation with occupation authorities and during interrogations, such as through beatings, electrical shock, mock executions, and use of sexual violence,” Biden said.

“Inside Russia itself, reports of torture in places of detention are commonplace, including against activists and critics of government policies.”

Biden also highlighted Syria and North Korea, saying “tens of thousands of Syrians remain forcibly disappeared and subject to torture, with families often never knowing the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.”

There are “widespread credible reports of torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane, and degrading punishment” by the authorities in Pyongyang, Biden wrote. This includes abuse of women “such as sexual violence, forced abortion and forced sterilisation.”

Biden made no reference to years of reports of torture conducted by US security services in Iraq, Afghanistan and the US military base at Guantanamo, Cuba.

However, he said “no country is immune. It is our firm belief as a nation that we must hold ourselves to the same standards to which we hold others.”

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