German human rights envoy criticizes CIA ‘waterboarding’

The German government’s envoy for human rights issues, Günter Nooke, has criticized that US intelligence agency the CIA will still be allowed to use controversial interrogation techniques like simulated drowning.

The US Congress this week failed to overturn a veto by President George Bush permitting the American spy agency to continue to make use of what is known as “waterboarding”.

“Waterboarding is torture and it shouldn’t be part of the anti-terror fight,” Nooke told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper.

He also said it was unfortunate that Washington criticizes other nations for torture in a recently released human rights report by the US State Department, yet tolerates it in America. “That undercuts the credibility necessary to carry out a foreign policy guided by human rights,” he told the Thursday edition of the paper.

Nooke said there could be problems ahead for Germany’s armed forces while working with US troops in Afghanistan unless the United States makes clear waterboarding and other controversial interrogation techniques cannot be used against prisoners. “Otherwise prisoners cannot be handed over,” he said.

Marianne Heuwagen, spokeswoman for Human Rights Watch in Germany, said the Bundeswehr must “now make its position clear how they will act in Afghanistan” since German operational guidelines have not been made public.