The IRCT urges President-elect Obama to sign an Executive Order banning torture07-11-2008
The IRCT is delighted that the incoming U.S. president has strongly condemned all forms of torture and ill-treatment, stating in 2007 that “it's time to tell the world that America rejects torture without exception or equivocation”. To ensure his vision becomes reality, the IRCT urges Mr Obama to sign an Executive Order that prohibits torture, and we encourage the President-elect to work with the new Congress to increase financial support for the rehabilitation of torture survivors.
With the advent of the ill-coined “war on terrorism” in 2001 the Bush administration initiated a long and sad process that led to the legitimisation and practice of torture of detainees in U.S. custody and their indefinite detention without trial.
Defying international human rights standards in the most fundamental manner, these policies and practices have had a profound negative impact on human rights globally. Not least have they undermined the legitimacy of the U.S. – and those democratic countries that have directly or indirectly supported these policies - to slam authoritarian rulers around the world for using torture as part of what they claim to be counter-terrorism efforts.
Keeping Mr Obama’s own campaign slogan in mind, now is indeed the time for change –to show the world that the United States is unambiguously dedicated to fighting torture and upholding the fundamental values upon which the country was founded.
The IRCT applauds Mr Obama for his assurance that under his tenure “America will once again be the country that stands up to these deplorable tactics” with “no more secret authorization of methods like simulated drowning”. To further these goals, we urge Mr Obama to fulfil his promise to close Guantánamo Bay detention centre, and to end the practice of extraordinary rendition that sends terror suspects to third countries known to practice torture. Finally, but not least, we call on the new President to demonstrate leadership in ensuring that crimes of torture do not go unpunished, neither for the direct perpetrators nor for those who have authorised such practices.
Campaign to ban torture
The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) – an IRCT member centre in Minnesota – has helped to launch a Campaign to Ban Torture, an initiative that asks the new President to sign an Executive Order against torture based on a simple "Golden Rule": Do not employ any interrogation methods that would be unacceptable if used against Americans.
The campaign’s Declaration of Principles for a Presidential Executive Order on Prisoner Treatment, Torture and Cruelty has been reviewed and endorsed by leading voices in the faith, military, foreign policy and security fields. The IRCT urges Mr Obama, during his first 100 days in office, to issue an Executive Order that aligns with these principles.
The United States also is one of the key international donors for rehabilitation of torture survivors, both at home and abroad, through its Torture Victims Relief Act. The IRCT calls upon the President and newly elected Congress to reauthorize the Act in 2009 and increase the budget behind it to give as many torture survivors as possible access to the specialised psychological and medical care that will allow them to rebuild their lives.