A time comes when silence is betrayal . . . We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness so close around us.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture
Prepared by Ashley Kizler, Institute for Victims of Trauma, March 2006
Taken from PSYCH INFO Database and 3 Reports from Congressional Research Service
Annas, George J. (2005). Unspeakably cruel-torture, medical ethics, and the law. New England Journal of Medicine, 352, 2127-2132.
Torture is a particularly horrible crime, and any participation of physicians in torture has always been difficult to comprehend. As General Telford Taylor explained to the American judges at the trial of the Nazi doctors in Nuremberg, Germany (called the "Doctors' Trial"), "To kill, to maim, and to torture is criminal under all modern systems of law…yet these [physician] defendants, all of whom were fully able to comprehend the nature of their acts… are responsible for wholesale murder and unspeakable cruel tortures." Almost 60 years later, with reports concerning torture in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the question of torture during wartime, and the role of physicians in torture, is again a source of consternation and controversy. The author argues that preventing torture is everyone's business-but three professions seem to be especially well suited to prevent torture: medicine, law, and the military. Each profession has particular obligations. Physicians have the obligations of the universally recognized and respected role of healers. Lawyers have the obligations to respect and uphold the law, including international humanitarian law. And military officers have the obligation to follow the international laws of war, including the Geneva Conventions. The challenges of the war on terror present an opportunity for medical and legal professional organizations to work together transnationally to uphold medical ethics and international humanitarian law, respectively, rather than to search for ways to avoid legal or ethical dictates. In addition, the war on terror provides physicians and lawyers who are also military officers with an opportunity to clarify their roles in the military services and their obligations under international law and the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Carlsson, J. M., Mortensen, E. L., Kastrup, M. (2005). A follow-up study of mental health and health-related quality of life in tortured refugees in multidisciplinary treatment. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 193, 651-657.
Longitudinal studies of traumatized refugees are needed to study changes in mental health over time and to improve health-related and social interventions. The aim of this study was to examine changes in symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety, and in health-related quality of life during treatment in traumatized refugees. The study group comprises 55 persons admitted to the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims in 2001 and 2002. Data on background, trauma, present social situation, mental symptoms (Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25, Hamilton Depression Scale, Harvard Trauma Questionnaire), and health-related quality of life (WHO Quality of Life-Brief) were collected before treatment and after 9 months. No change in mental symptoms or health-related quality of life was observed. In spite of the treatment, emotional distress seems to be chronic for the majority of this population. Future studies are needed to explore which health-related and social interventions are most useful to traumatized refugees.
Daud, A., Skoglund, E., Rydelius, P. (2005). Children in families of torture victims: Transgenerational transmission of parents' traumatic experiences to their children. International Journal of Social Welfare, 14, 23-32.
This article details a study to test the hypothesis that immigrant children whose parents have been tortured before coming to Sweden suffer from depressive symptoms, post-traumatic stress symptoms, somatisation and behavioral disorders. Fifteen families where at least one of the parents had experienced torture were compared with fifteen families from a similar ethnic and cultural background where their parents might have experienced violence by not torture. The parents were investigated using interviews, the Karlinska Scales of Personality (KSP) and Harvard/Uppsala Trauma Questionnaire (H/UTQ). The children were assessed using the DICA-interview according to posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, somatisation, anxiety, and psychosocial stress symptoms. On the KSP, they scored higher on nine of the fifteen sub-scales. The fathers in the tortured group scored higher than their wives only on the sub-scale for guilt. According to the DICA-interviews, the children of tortured parents had more symptoms of anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress, attention deficits and behavioral disorders compared with the comparison group. Social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists and teachers need to be aware of a possible transmission of parents' traumatic experiences to their children and to develop treatment methods for children of torture victims.
Garcia, M. J. (2005). Renditions: Constraints imposed by laws on torture. Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, Order Code RL38290, 1-22.
Persons suspected of terrorist activity may be transferred from one State (i.e., country) for arrest, detention, and/or interrogation. Commonly, this is done through extradition, by which one State surrenders a person within it's jurisdiction to a requesting State via a formal legal process, typically established by treaty. Far less often, such transfers are effectuated through a process known as "extraordinary rendition" or "irregular rendition." These terms have often been used to refer to the extrajudicial transfer of a person from one State to another. In this report, "rendition" refers to extraordinary or irregular renditions unless otherwise specified.
Although the particularities regarding the usage of extraordinary renditions and legal authority behind such renditions are not publicly available, various U.S. officials have acknowledged the practice's existence. Recently, there has been some controversy as to the usage of renditions by the United States, particularly with regard to the alleged transfer of suspected terrorist to countries known to employ harsh interrogation techniques that may rise the level of torture, purportedly with the knowledge or acquiescence of the United States.
This report discusses relevant international and domestic law restricting the transfer of persons to foreign states for the purpose of torture. The U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and its domestic implementing legislation (the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998) impose the primary legal restrictions on the transfer of persons to countries where they would face torture. CAT and U.S. implementing legislation generally prohibit the rendition of persons to countries in most cases where they would more likely than not be tortured, though there are arguably limited exceptions to this prohibition. Under U.S. regulations implementing CAT, a person may be transferred to a country that proved credible assurances that the rendered person will not be tortured. Neither CAT nor implement legislation prohibits the rendition of persons to countries where they would be subject to harsh interrogation techniques not rising to the level of torture. Besides CAT, additional obligations may be imposed upon U.S. rendition practice via the Geneva Conventions, the War Crimes Act, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
This report also discusses legislative proposals to limit the transfer of persons to countries where they may face torture, including the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief (P.L. 109-13); the House-passed version of H.R. 2862, the Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006, introduced by Representative Frank Wolf on June 10, 2005 and passed the House on June 16, 2005; H.R. 2863, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2006, introduced by Representative C.W. Bill Young on June 10, 2005 and passed the House on June 20, 2005; H.R. 952, the Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act, introduced by Representative Edward Markey on February 17, 2005; and S. 654, the Convention Against Torture Implementation Act of 2005, introduced in the Senate by Senator Patrick Leahy on March 17, 2005.
Garcia, M. J. (2006). U.N. convention against torture (CAT): Overview and application to interrogation techniques. Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, Order Code RL32438, 1-20.
The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (CAT) requires signatory parties to take measures to end torture within their territorial jurisdiction and to criminalize all acts of torture. Unlike many other international agreements and declarations prohibiting torture, CAT provides a general definition of the term. CAT generally defines torture as the infliction of severe physical and/or mental suffering committed under the color of law. CAT allows for no circumstances or emergencies where torture could be permitted.
The United States ratified CAT, subject to certain declarations, reservations, and understandings, including that the Convention was not self-executing and therefore required domestic implementing legislation to be enforced by U.S. courts. In order to ensure U.S. compliance with CAT obligations to criminalize all acts of torture, the United States enacted sections 2340 and 2340A of the United States Criminal Code, which prohibit torture occurring outside the United States (torture occurring inside the Unites States was already prohibited under several federal and state statutes of general application prohibiting acts such as assault, battery, and murder). The applicability and scope of these statutes were the subject of widely-reported memorandums by the Department of Defense and Department of Justice in 2002. In late 2004, the Department of Justice released a memorandum superseding its earlier memo and modifying some of its conclusions.
Assuming for the purposes of discussion that a U.S. body had to review a harsh interrogation method to determine whether it constituted torture under either CAT or applicable U.S. law, it might examine international jurisprudence as to whether certain interrogation methods constituted torture. Although these decisions are not binding precedent for the United States, they may inform deliberations here.
Congress recently approved additional guidelines concerning the treatment of detainees. The Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic Influenza Act, 2006 (P.L. 109-148), and the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2006 (P.L. 109-163) contain identical provisions that prohibit the "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of persons under the detention, custody, or control of the United States Government." These provisions, added to the defense appropriations and authorization bills via amendments introduced by Senator John McCain, are discussed briefly in this report and in greater detail in CRS Report RS22312, Interrogation of Detainees: Overview of the McCain Amendment, by Michael John Garcia.
Ghahary, N. (2003). Sequelae of political torture: Narratives of trauma and resilience by Iranian torture survivors. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 64, 2916.
More than 100 countries around the world use systematic torture against civilians and members of political opposition groups. Iran has been identified as one of seven countries with the most "appalling human rights records" (Amnesty International, 2001). In addition to continual use of public floggings and stoning of civilians for punishment of crimes, between 1981 to 1988, the government of Iran executed thousands of political prisoners, almost all youngsters, and killed many others under torture to obtain confessions (Abrahamian, 1999). This qualitative investigation presents a narrative approach to the study of trauma and resilience. It addresses the question of how a group of former political prisoners from Iran, have made sense of their torture experience and their survival, and how they define their proactive work for the protection of human rights. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with activist torture survivors from Iran, who currently live in Germany. They were interviewed about their experiences and explanations of their overcoming adversity given the Iranian historical, sociopolitical and cultural context. Interviews were audio taped and transcribed and narrative analysis was used to describe the emerging themes of trauma and resilience. This study's social and clinical implications lie in its utility to give voice to an invisible group, who has hands-on knowledge of surviving political violence. Findings contribute on the level of theory, calling for an integrative approach, addressing both individual and collective aspects of trauma and resilience. Findings also call attention to the inclusion of concepts of political psychology and social trauma when working with victims of political oppression.
Grimmett, R. F. (2001). U.S. Army School of the Americas: Background and congressional concerns. Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, Order Code RL30532, 1-14.
The School of the Americas was a U.S. Army training facility founded in 1946 largely for Spanish-speaking cadets and officers from Latin American nations. The school was located at Fort Benning, Georgia. Controversies developed in recent years concerning human rights abuses committed by School graduates, and there were several legislative attempts since 1993 to cut funding for the School. The School was charged by P.L. 100-180 (10 USC 4415) with the mission of developing and conducting instruction for the armed forces of Latin America. The law stipulated that the School would promote military professionalism, foster cooperation among the multinational military forces in Latin America, and expand Latin American armed forces' knowledge of U.S. customs and traditions.
According to critics, the School had abusive graduates who violated human rights. They maintained that soldiers who were chosen to attend were not properly screened, with the results that some students and instructors attended the School even after being implicated in human rights violations. In Septemeber1996, concerns over the School intensified when DOD made available excerpts from seven Spanish-language training manuals used at the School from 1982 until 1991. The manuals discussed forms of coercion against insurgents, including execution and torture.
Supporters of the School contended that it had the potential to help bring about greater respect for human rights in Latin America by providing human rights training to thousands of Latin American military officials. Supporters maintained that those graduates who committed human rights violations did not commit the violence because of their training at Fort Benning, but rather in spite of it. They argued that only a small number out of a total of over 60,000 School graduates have been accused of human rights violations. Supporters also surged that most Latin American militaries now support civilian democratic rule.
Congressional oversight of the School of the Americas increased since 1993, essentially focusing on human rights issues. Four House attempts to cut funding for the School were rejected in 1993, 1994, 1997, and 1998. In 1999, the House voted to cut funding for the School during consideration of the FY2000 foreign aid appropriations bill, H.R. 2606. Ultimately, however, the conferees on the bill rejected the House position and continued funding for the School. In November 1999, Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera proposed a plan to restructure and rename the school, making it more academic and recruiting civilians from Latin American governments as well as military students from the region. In October 2000, the FY2001 defense authorization bill (H.R. 5408), contained language that was incorporated into the H.R. 4205 conference report (H.R. 106-945), which repealed the legislative authority for the School of the Americas and replaced it with new authority for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation along the lines of Secretary Caldera's 1999 proposal. Through enactment of H.R. 4205 into law on October 30, 2000, (P.L. 106-398), the U.S. Army School of the Americas ceased to exist. This report provides background on the former School and issues related to it. It will not be updated.