NEW YORK (AFP) – Human Rights Watch welcomed the resignation of US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Monday, saying it hoped his departure would lead to a probe into US policies for detaining terrorist suspects.
"The most important responsibility of the attorney general is to say no when government officials — including the president — are tempted to cross legal boundaries," said Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.
"History will remember Gonzales as the man who never said no to torture and detention policies that violated US and international law," he added.
Gonzales earlier announced he would resign after a scandal-tainted tenure marred by claims that he hid the truth and may have committed perjury.
An architect of contentious US "war on terror" legal tactics, Gonzales was also at the center of a row over the firing of federal prosecutors and was the target of a barrage of criticism from Democrats.
His resignation "should galvanize an investigation into US detention policies during his tenure both at the Justice Department and as White House Counsel from 2002 to 2005," New York-based Human Rights Watch said.
"Over the last seven years, Gonzales was also in a position to approve policies such as secret detention, the ‘extraordinary rendition’ of prisoners to countries that systematically practice torture, and the use of military commissions that deny basic due process," the watchdog said.