This June, NRCAT is highlighting the following aspects of our work as opportunities
for congregations, religious organizations and people of faith to mark
Torture Awareness Month:
NRCAT is joining with a national coalition of religious and human rights groups in a National Week of Action Against Torture, Guantanamo and the NDAA, including a march in Washington, DC (6/24), local vigils (6/26), and national call-in and tweet-in days. Get more information.
Push back against the public advocacy of torture with a faith-based response
During the last few months, we have witnessed audiences voicing their approval when Presidential candidates advocate for the use of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques.” This public acceptance of torture follows years of public statements and published memoirs by top government officials who authorized the use of torture, as well as the positive portrayal of torture by some media outlets and in popular entertainment. We must challenge these views that are rooted in fear with a perspective grounded in the values of our faith traditions.
Repeal indefinite detention
In late 2011, Congress passed and President Obama signed legislation (the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, also called the NDAA) that specifically authorizes the use of indefinite detention. Supporters of this provision went so far as to claim that it authorized the indefinite military detention without trial of people captured in the United States. Indefinite detention is closely associated with torture: suspects detained indefinitely are at greater risk of being tortured, and victims of torture are sometimes held indefinitely because the evidence against them is tainted.
End prolonged solitary confinement
The most common and pervasive example of torture in the U.S. today is found in our prison system. Prisoners held in solitary confinement are often detained in a cell by themselves for 23 hours a day, sometimes for years, or even decades. Due to its destructive physical and psychological effects, such treatment has long been considered torture. Efforts to limit the use of prolonged solitary confinement in U.S. prisons are gaining momentum in a number of states, but many public officials and citizens still advocate for this inhumane practice.
Combat anti-Muslim bigotry
Anti-Muslim bigotry that continues to find expression in law enforcement training materials and attacks on mosques is a critical underpinning of the culture of torture. Most of the people detained as terrorism suspects since September 11, 2001, have been Muslim, leading many people in our society to view all Muslims as “other” and accept policies that lead to torture, denying the inherent dignity of every human being.
Pursue accountability for U.S.-sponsored torture
Our nation’s refusal to confront the past and uncover the full truth about our government’s use of torture – who was tortured, why they were tortured, who ordered the torture, and the impact of those actions – has allowed those who support the use of torture to dominate the public discourse with unsupported claims about its efficacy and necessity. Learning from the past is the best way to build a torture-free future. NRCAT has called for establishing a nonpartisan Commission of Inquiry, as well as the appointment of a special prosecutor when criminal investigations are warranted.