Thursday, July 15, 2010

Felony Torture Statute is Constitutional

Today, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the statute passed to implement the Convention Against Torture is constitutional. The decision upholds the jury verdict and sentence holding Charles "Chuckie" Taylor, Jr.'s accountable for torture committed when he was head of the Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) in Liberia.

The court's decision reads: "After thorough review, we conclude that all of Emmanuel’s convictions are constitutional. The United States validly adopted the CAT [Convention Against Torture] pursuant to the President’s Article II treaty-making authority, and it was well within Congress’s power under the Necessary and Proper Clause to criminalize both torture, as defined by the Torture Act, and conspiracy to commit torture. Furthermore, we hold that both the Torture Act and the firearm statute apply to extraterritorial conduct, and that their application in this case was proper. Finally, we conclude that Emmanuel’s trial and the resulting convictions were not rendered fundamentally unfair by any evidentiary or other procedural errors, and that his sentence is without error. Accordingly, we affirm Emmanuel’s convictions and sentence in all respects."

The full decision is available here:

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