June 26 is designated as the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and marks the ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture, to which the United States is a party. To mark these events, the American Humanist Association is participating in a concerted effort to persuade Congress put our country back on the right track by saying NO to torture.
Since 9/11 our government has detained and tortured hundreds of individuals, held people in secret prisons and at Guantanamo and created a tribunal system that allows secret evidence and tortured confessions. Such actions have been damaging to our Constitution and core values at home and detrimental to our reputation and national security throughout the world.
President Obama campaignedon a promise of change and has taken some encouraging first steps, but more needs to be done and Congress must cooperate in creating a solution. Only we can hold their feet to the fire and ensure they make good on their promises.
Help put pressure on Congress by calling your members of Congress or the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Ask for your senators’ and/or representative’s office.
Once connected, identify yourself as a constituent and explain that you want Senator/Representative (NAME) to:
- Close Guantanamo. The president has announced his intention to close the prison by January 2010. Congress should work with the President to ensure the prison is closed and the individuals held there are charged and prosecuted or repatriated.
- End military commissions permanently. These kangaroo courts didn’t work under the Bush administration and cosmetic changes in the Obama administration won’t work either. The system is fatally flawed. We must work to find another way to provide a true measure of justice, while respecting the rule of law and upholding American values.
- Reject indefinite detention. As Americans, we hold ourselves to a higher standard. Our core values demand that we prosecute crime where evidence exists and release individuals where evidence of wrongdoing is lacking or non-existent — mere suspicion is not enough to deny anyone due process. We must hold true to our values and reject any attempt to give any president the ability to detain people indefinitely without charge.
- Support accountability. As more and more evidence comes to light about the treatment and interrogation of detainees, the evidence demands a thorough investigation of the abuse, the architects of that abuse and prosecution of any crimes that were committed. Just as important, the American people deserve a full and fair accounting of what took place to ensure torture never happens in our name again.
Only with your efforts can we make torture something of the past. It’s not enough to simply remember our international obligations and victims of torture — it’s time to say with one voice: not in our name, never again!