March 13, 2018 – In response to reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be replaced by current CIA director Mike Pompeo – who will in turn be replaced by current CIA deputy director Gina Haspel — Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, issued this statement:
“Both Pompeo and Haspel have deeply alarming records when it comes to human rights. Before they assume positions that could have repercussions for human rights around the world, they should be given utmost scrutiny by the Senate in the confirmation process.
“Pompeo has previously voiced his support for interrogation tactics like waterboarding and there are reports that Haspel directed a CIA ‘black site’ at a time when detainees were subjected to torture and enforced disappearance. She may also have had a role in the destruction of evidence of such crimes under international law.
“Both nominees would have to disavow all previous statements and actions advocating this unlawful conduct if they are to be seriously considered as candidates. Torture, extraordinary rendition, and indefinite detention are unacceptable, and we cannot allow human rights abuses to be condoned in the name of national security.
“The State Department is responsible for helping to protect people around the world fleeing horrific violence and persecution as well as holding other governments accountable for protecting human rights. There is too much at stake to entrust these roles to anyone who treats human rights as callously as both Pompeo and Haspel have in the past.”
In December 2016, Amnesty International USA and a coalition of other organizations issued a joint statement of principles regarding the suitability of nominees for state-confirmed positions, noting that nominees must support the U.S. Constitution, embody ideals of inclusion and respect for all individuals, uphold democratic processes and institutions, and respect human rights obligations
Earlier that year, the board of directors at Amnesty International USA urged the Senate to seek an explicit commitment from then-Representative Pompeo to uphold U.S. and international law on torture.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning global movement of more than 7 million people in over 150 countries who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.