Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thanks to TASSC for hosting meeting with UN Special Rapporteur

On January 13, the Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition (TASSC) hosted a meeting with the newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Dr. Juan Mendez. We're grateful that TASSC invited us to attend this meeting and thankful to work alongside the passionate advocates against torture who were there, including more than twenty survivors of torture from TASSC as well as representatives from the National Religious Campaign against Torture, Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma, Pax Christi USA, Maryknoll Office for Global Concern, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

We were especially inspired to hear Dr. Mendez describe his "victim-centered" approach to his mandate. As Special Rapporteur, a job he stepped into two months ago, Dr. Mendez will investigate individual reports of torture worldwide and work with governments to stop and prevent torture. Being a survivor of torture himself, he has a very special sensitivity to the rights of survivors to information and redress.

At the meeting, Dr. Mendez noted that he is in discussions with the U.S. Government about complaints of torture committed in the name of national security, including allegations regarding the conditions in which Pvt. Bradley Manning is being held in Quantico, Virginia. He also discussed the international status of the U.N. Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances and Optional Protocol to the U.N. Convention Against Torture (neither of which has been ratified by the U.S.)

For more about the meeting, please visit TASSC's website: http://tassc.org/blog/2011/01/tassc-hosts-u-n-special-rapporteur-on-torture/

Monday, January 17, 2011

From Civil Rights to Human Rights

Today is the national holiday on which we commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s contributions to human rights in the United States. Though he is known in the U.S. as a civil rights leader, Dr. King's nonviolent resistance against oppression has made him a human rights icon throughout the world. His widely recited quote, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," embraced the indivisibility and universality of human rights, seen in his work for economic justice at the end of his life.

Friday, January 14, 2011

We're watching this case closely... so is the Blog of the Legal Times:

D.C. Circuit Appeals Ready to Void Torture Suit

A federal appeals court in Washington appears poised to uphold the dismissal of a suit that alleges government torture in Afghanistan and in Iraq of nine civilians who claim they were beaten, burned and shocked before being released without charges.

Survivors of torture have a right to redress and accountability. The UN Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. has ratified, sets this out in no uncertain terms. And yet, Senior Judge Harry Edwards told ACLU attorney for the plaintiffs, Cecillia Wang, “You can’t prevail under the law of the circuit... It’s not your fault. That’s what the law of the circuit is.”

When we talk about closing the gaps between international human rights standards and U.S. laws, this is what we mean.