Barack Obama’s decision to grant an amnesty to CIA operatives who used controversial interrogation techniques on terror suspects has been criticised by human rights groups as a failure to uphold US laws.
Human rights groups and former detainees in US custody welcomed Mr Obama’s decision to publish memos detailing harsh interrogation techniques used under the Bush administration.
But they condemned the decision not to prosecute CIA agents who use interrogation practices described by many as torture.
Mr Obama said he wanted to turn a page on what he called “a dark and painful chapter”, condemning the aggressive techniques – including waterboarding, shackling and stripping – used on terror suspects. But he promised not to legally pursue the perpetrators, a move designed to allow the US to put the episodes in the past.
The decision left some bitter in the Muslim world, where there was widespread anger over abuse of detained terror suspects. It threatens to tarnish somewhat Mr Obama’s growing popularity among Arabs and Muslims, who have cheered his promises to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities and withdraw US troops from Iraq.
“All of us in Guantanamo never had hope or faith in the American government,” said Jomaa al-Dosari, a Saudi who spent six years in the detention centre before being released last year. “We only ask God for our rights and to demand justice for the wrongs we experience in this life. There will be a time in history when every person who committed a wrong will be punished.”