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Torture in the United States

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  Web Editor:
  Vernellia R. Randall
Professor of Law
The University of Dayton
Web Editor

The Status of Compliance by the U.S. Government with the
International Convention Against Torture and Other
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Prepared By
A Joint Working Group of Non-Governmental Civil and Human Rights Groups in the U.S.
For Submission to the United Nations' Committee Against Torture in Conjunction with the Initial Compliance Report of the United States Government with the Convention Against Torture

Compiled and Edited By Morton Sklar
Director, World Organization Against Torture USA

October, 1998

Contact: World Organization Against Torture USA
Suite 400,1015 18th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
Tele: (202)861-6494; Fax: (202)659-2724; E-mail: woatusa@woatusa.org


Executive Summary
Complete Report

A. Background -- Why This Report Was Prepared

The International Convention Against Torture (CAT) was ratified by the United States Government in 1994, with the Government's initial report reviewing compliance with the Convention's provisions due to be submitted to the United Nations Committee Against Torture one year later. This report is now more than three years overdue. In its absence, our Coalition, made up of more than 60 contributing non-governmental organizations dealing with a broad cross-section of issues and concerns related to torture and other forms of cruel and inhuman treatment or punishment, has decided to release its own evaluation of U.S. compliance under CAT. Our goals are to:

  • encourage the Government to fulfill its responsibilities on a more effective basis, both in terms of submitting the required compliance report, and eliminating the practices detailed below that violate internationally recognized human rights standards related to torture; and

  • promote a better understanding among government officials, the general public, and the NGO community of how international human rights standards and enforcement mechanisms can be applied to domestic issues and needs.
A similar evaluation, covering a much broader range of human rights issues, had been submitted by our Coalition to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations in 1995, assessing U.S. compliance under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.(1)That evaluation and report contributed significantly to an extensive public hearing on U.S. human rights violations before the Human Rights Committee that was held at the United Nations in New York City in March of that year.

There are three reasons why members of our working group believe that preparation of a non-governmental report on torture in the U.S. is essential. First, as the experience with the government's initial compliance report to the Human Rights Committee in 1995 indicated, the Government cannot be expected, without a concerted parallel assessment and report by domestic non-governmental human rights groups, to provide a complete and objective analysis of current problems and needs. An outside assessment of U.S. compliance, and of the completeness and accuracy of the U.S. Government's submissions to the U.N. monitoring agencies, is essential for an accurate and objective assessment to be made. The United States has long advocated the importance and necessity of maintaining active, independent human rights monitoring and reporting by private groups in other countries. It is no less essential that this process of independent domestic assessment take place in our own country.

Second, while the problems and issues relating to torture in U.S. do not match the severity of torture related problems taking place in many other countries such as China, Sudan and Turkey, where cases of torture and repression are frequent and extreme, they are nevertheless surprising and alarming in scope, and deserve immediate and serious attention. All human rights violations deserve to be remedied and prevented, not only those occurring in foreign lands of a particularly horrendous nature. It is important, as well, for the sake of credibility and effectiveness, for the U.S. government and U.S.-based human rights groups to demonstrate even-handedness in the way we treat and condemn human rights violations. Our efforts to encourage others to meet minimum standards of human rights must begin with a willingness to subject our own country and our own government to the same requirements. The fact that our problems may not be as extreme should not deter us from giving attention to our domestic needs. The best way to promote compliance by others is to demonstrate a willingness to fully and carefully observe international requirements ourselves, and to be open to the process of international and domestic monitoring and analysis that is so essential for identifying and preventing violations.

Third, reform of major deficiencies is unlikely to take place without active exchange of information and dialogue between government officials and the non-governmental community. Over the course of the past few years, initially with the report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and now with this report under the Convention Against Torture and the companion effort involving the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that is scheduled to be issued shortly, we have been trying to stimulate a much greater level of communication and exchange with the government officials responsible for major policies in such key areas as the treatment of prisoners in detention and the processing of refugee and asylum claims. We hope the process of productive dialogue that has been started can continue and expand, so as to promote more effective reform in the future.

When the report under the CAT is completed, our Coalition will be turning its attention to the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and the initial U.S. compliance report to be submitted to the U.N. committee monitoring that treaty - a report that also is more than three years overdue. Hopefully, this will continue the joint process of communication and the search for methods of effective reform that has begun with the reports under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture.

Perhaps the best example of the type of productive dialogue that we are hoping to produce is provided by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which has instituted the practice of meeting regularly with representatives from a number of NGOs to deal constructively and cooperatively on a number of issues related to the status and treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. Their openness to regular input and dialogue with the NGO community is a model that should be copied by other federal agencies responsible for dealing with each of the major issues dealt with in this report.

One other major objective for this series of human rights reports is to help clarify the linkages that exist between international human rights standards and enforcement mechanisms and the concerns that have traditionally been viewed as domestic in nature. By forming a coalition of primarily domestic groups, and introducing them to the international standards that are relevant to their work and interests, we hope to establish a basis for greater understanding and acceptance of international human rights as a key component of our domestic civil rights work. Many domestic NGOs have tended to focus almost exclusively on domestic protections and approaches, and have demonstrated a reluctance to use international standards as an additional basis for seeking attention and reform. The substantial progress that has taken place in the recent past in the development and acceptance of international human rights standards, and the numerous efforts that our government has been making to apply these concepts to other countries, present a new opportunity for dealing with what had previously been approached exclusively through domestic methods.

We believe the international standards and procedures provide new tools that can be utilized by domestic groups to mobilize international and domestic awareness and support aimed at promoting improvements in U.S. domestic policies and practices in such areas as the death penalty, the execution of juvenile offenders, prison conditions and the treatment of refugees. This is particularly true in a number of instances, as is the case with the death penalty and treatment of asylum seekers, where the international instruments such as CAT provide stronger standards than are available domestically under our Constitution and laws. One of the most important goals of our joint effort is to make the international human rights standards and procedures more understandable to the public and to domestic civil rights groups in the U.S., and to demonstrate how they can be used to promote domestic reforms in an effective way. This report, and the joint effort that has been mounted to bring a large number of domestic groups together to compile it on a joint basis, represent an important beginning towards this objective. Over the coming months we hope to continue to work on a joint and cooperative basis to build on these linkages between international human rights and domestic concerns. We welcome the input and involvement of additional members of the non-governmental community who would like to work towards this goal.

B. What Are the Major Areas of Non-Compliance?

Torture, which is identified by CAT as including all forms of government sponsored (by affirmative action or by acquiescence) cruel and inhuman treatment and punishment, or other forms of severe pain and suffering, both physical and psychological, currently is taking place in the United States in a number of important areas.

1. The Death Penalty

While application of the death penalty as part of the lawful criminal justice process is not prohibited under the CAT and other international human rights instruments, certain important limitations on the use of capital punishment have been established which the U.S. government is not observing. Contrary to the vast majority of other nations, and to the requirements of international human rights treaties the U.S. has endorsed, the U.S. continues to execute juvenile offenders, with 12 executed in the past 20 years, and 69 more currently on death row. In recent years, both the U.S. government and a number of states also have substantially expanded the number and type of crimes that have been made subject to the death penalty, again despite prohibitions to this effect in international human rights treaties. The tendency to prosecute juveniles as adults for serious criminal violations that might involve the death penalty has been increasing.

Serious questions also have been raised about the inherent cruelty involved in certain applications of the death penalty and the inordinate period of time that some prisoners awaiting execution are kept on death row as a result of governmental delays. The horrifying "burning" of Pedro Medina that took place during his execution in Florida on March 25, 1997 when an electric chair malfunctioned, served to dramatize the inherent brutality involved in the death penalty.

The discriminatory impact of capital punishment on racial and ethnic minorities and low-income people, persuasively documented by the recent report of the Death Penalty Information Center, adds substantially to the inequity and inappropriateness of the practice. All these problems have been compounded by recently enacted laws that significantly reduce opportunities of prisoners facing execution to appeal their convictions and sentences to federal courts, and to obtain free legal assistance at the appeals level.

Required Action -- The Death Penalty: Application of the death penalty to juvenile offenders should be prohibited under all circumstances, consistent with the requirements of a number of international treaties binding on the U.S. Government. Expanded use of the death penalty to additional crimes at both federal and state levels should stop. The discriminatory impact of how capital punishment is imposed on racial and ethnic minorities should be recognized as a sufficiently serious problem to justify terminating its use. Recent restrictions on the provision of free legal assistance for appeals by indigent defendants convicted of capital crimes should be eased so that greater access to legal assistance will be available to indigent defendants convicted of capital crimes.

2. Prison Conditions and the Treatment of Refugee Detainees

Despite the U.S. government's claim that adequate legal protections exist under the Constitution and laws to prevent instances of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" with respect to prisoners in detention, the fact remains that a substantial number of these types of abuses continue to take place in U.S. prisons. In fact, as part of the crackdown on crime that is taking place in our country, prison abuses and extra-legal punishments are becoming more frequent rather than less, as new forms of prisoner control and harassment are introduced, such as widespread use of long-term solitary confinement, arbitrary application of punitive violence and long-term restraints, increasing use of control unit and super-maximum prison facilities that isolate prisoners and impose other harsh treatments on a punitive basis, and the re-introduction of "chain gangs" for both men and women prisoners. The practice of indiscriminate use of largely untested chemical sprays and electronic stun equipment to control and punish prisoners has become widespread, often with harsh and painful results disproportionate to any potential threat. These devices frequently are being used on an arbitrary and unnecessary basis.

The tendencies to "privatize" detention facilities and to house prisoners in facilities far from their homes make it more difficult to monitor and prevent these practices. Protections for prisoners also have been weakened by new laws reducing the ability of prisoners to bring their situations to the attention of the federal courts.

Special problems related to abusive treatment of detainees are experienced by those seeking asylum status, many of whom are held in criminal facilities and mixed with the criminal population, while awaiting determination of their claims. The case of Fauziya Kasinga, a women seeking to escape female genital mutilation in Togo, only to find herself subjected to serious sexual and physical abuses while in detention in the U.S. for 16 months, epitomizes the problems that detained refugees face despite their legitimate fear of persecution or torture, and the fact that they have committed no crime.

Required Action -- Prison Conditions and the Treatment of Detainees: Arbitrary and extreme methods of control and punishment of prisoners, including long-term isolation, restraint or immobilization, arbitrary and disproportionate use of electronic shock and stun devices, and the widening use of control and maximum security units and facilities, should be stopped. "Privatization" of the ownership and administration of prison facilities by profit-making enterprises should be recognized as inconsistent with the proper carrying out of criminal justice functions by the government.

3. Physical and Sexual Abuse of Women in Prisons

Gender based physical and sexual abuse is too common an occurrence in prisons in the U.S. Recent on-site evaluations of conditions in women's prisons have found extensive gender-based mistreatment, physical abuse and outright sexual assault. A pattern and practice has been found to exist, throughout the prison system, but especially at state institutions, of male prison personnel engaging in rape, sexual assault, sexual taunting, and unwarranted visual surveillance of female prisoners in showers and bathrooms. Similar types of abuses against women have been attributed to law enforcement personnel policing the border between the U.S. and Mexico to prevent unlawful immigration. To make matters worse, most states are failing to address custodial sexual misconduct because they do not have adequate policies and criminal sanctions in place (or refuse to apply them), and do not provide proper training for custodial personnel. The strong tendency is to punish the prisoners who have been abused, rather than their abusers. In the report they submitted in 1995 to the U.N. Human Rights Committee, the U.S. Government, in the judgment of Human Rights Watch, "vastly underestimated the problem of sexual abuse in women's prisons in the U.S., and greatly overstated the degree to which it is being remedied."

Required Action -- Sexual Abuse of Women in Prisons: Strong legislation and administrative regulations should be adopted at all levels, and in every jurisdiction, strictly prohibiting, and providing criminal sanctions, for sexual abuse (both physical and psychological) of women in detention. Visual surveillance of women prisoners in bathrooms and showers by male personnel should be strictly prohibited.

4. Return of Refugees to Situations of Torture and Persecution, and Their Long-Term Detention Under Abusive Conditions

Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture establishes an unconditional right of an emigree who has experienced or faces torture to not be expelled (refouled) back to their country of origin where they are likely to face additional torture. Although the U.S. government makes frequent assurances that it recognizes and observes the right of victims of torture and persecution not to be refouled, in fact it has adopted many practices and policies that help to produce this unfortunate (and prohibited) result. This includes the practice of "interdicting" boat people at sea, and automatically returning them without analysis of potential refugee status. This approach recently was approved by the U.S. Supreme Court under the dubious principle of "extra-territoriality," which considers actions taken by the U.S. government outside the nation's territorial limits as not subject to the jurisdiction of U.S. law and international human rights treaty obligations.

Increasing instances of refoulement of refugees and torture victims also are taking place as a result of the newly enacted Illegal Immigration Reform Act of 1996, which calls for "expedited return" of those seeking entry without proper papers, and significantly reduces opportunities for legitimate refugees to make effective asylum claims. Unless individuals are quickly identified as likely victims of torture or persecution during a very brief interview with an immigration officer immediately after their arrival, they are automatically returned to their countries of origin. Victims of persecution, especially torture and rape, often need time and medical or psychological treatment before they can tell their stories. These are not provided in expedited processing, nor is the opportunity to obtain legal or other representation that would help victims deal with the asylum process.

Part of the reason for the problem is that the Government has been very slow and uncertain in recognizing the need to include torture as an alternative ground for preventing expedited return. It was not until the end of October, 1998, just days before this report was published, that the U.S. Congress adopted legislation implementing domestically the primary requirement, included in Article 3 of the Torture Convention, that victims of torture or those facing the prospect of torture not be sent back to the countries they are fleeing. INS, to its credit, has acknowledged that all government officials are bound by the Article 3 non-return requirement. But the agency, using the failure of the U.S. Congress to adopt implementing legislation for CAT as an excuse, for some period of time refused to issue formal regulations providing more specific guidance to its officials and to the public on what the standards mean and how they should be enforced. Instead INS had to rely on internal memoranda and ad hoc procedures for dealing with torture claims that, while helpful, did not provide sufficient long-term, clear-cut guidance on these important procedures, nor reliable information on the results of CAT cases that are decided. As a result of these deficiencies, applicants for CAT protection have not been given access to the documents related to the decisions being made in their cases. Under INS rules, they even would be denied the right to appeal rejections of their CAT claims to the courts.

In addition, past history suggests that the policy of unlawful refoulement of victims of torture and persecution is applied on a highly discriminatory basis, with Black people and Hispanics from certain Latin American countries (such as Haiti and El Salvador) receiving distinctly unfair and biased treatment. For many years, during the horrific regimes of "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son, "Baby Doc" Duvalier, Haitian refugees were routinely excluded from the U.S. primarily on the basis of their race, according to the findings of a federal judge. As recently as 1997, Congress, for a number of months (until a public outcry forced a change in policy) excluded Haitians already in the U.S. from special protections granted to resident aliens who arrived in the U.S. in past years as escapees from other repressive Latin American regimes. Until October, 1998, these protections still were being provided to Haitians on a different and more temporary basis than asylum seekers from other Latin American countries, perpetuating the pattern of discrimination that has been in effect for many years, primarily for racial reasons. This discrepancy in treatment may finally have been corrected in the Omnibus Budget Act passed by Congress at the end of October, 1998, which includes provisions finally granting Haitians the same ability to apply for legal status as has been granted for some time to other long-term resident aliens.

In addition to the problem of refoulement of torture victims and those legitimately fearing torture, another common practice of the U.S. Government that violates CAT is the long-term, sometimes indefinite detention of large numbers of refugees and torture victims under conditions that frequently are abusive and inappropriate to their circumstances and needs. Often they are placed in state and county prisons and jails, mixed with criminal populations, and subjected to shackling and other forms of punishment geared to the criminal population, although they have committed no crimes. The facts that (with few exceptions) they do not represent a danger to the community, are not likely to flee (because they have legitimate grounds for seeking asylum), and that many asylum seekers are in serious need of medical or psychological assistance not available in detention, often are not taken into account. Neither is the fact that their detention and abusive treatment in prisons is likely to aggravate problems associated with traumatic stress syndrome that they suffer as victims of persecution or torture in the recent past. For women, especially those who have been victims of rape in the context of their persecution, conditions of detention also are conducive to forms of sexual abuse and harassment that reinforce the problems caused by the violations they have experienced.

What makes these problems even more worrisome is that the INS currently lacks the means of even keeping track of the numbers of refugees and torture victims who are being detained, and the length of time of their detention. These statistics are kept by individual detention facilities, but are not compiled on a national basis by the INS.

Required Action -- Asylum Seekers: The use of state and county jails and other criminal institutions to house asylum seekers and CAT petitioners, and the practice of co-mingling asylum seekers with criminal detainees, should cease. The practice of contracting with for-profit companies for the operation of detention centers should be terminated. Juveniles should not be detained under any circumstances, or split apart from their parents. Detention of asylum seekers should be reserved for rare instances where the government can establish a real threat to abscond, or a substantial threat to the community, such as terrorism or criminal activity. Legislation and administrative regulations implementing CAT should not include restrictions on the Article 3 non-return prohibition relating to categories of asylum seekers who are excluded from coverage, and denying the right of judicial review to these same individuals.

5. Failure to Extradite or Prosecute Torturers

Under international treaties all governments are equally responsible for the effective criminal prosecution of violators of the most significant international standards of conduct, such as war crimes, terrorism or torture. This principle of "universal enforcement" means that a government finding this type of offender within its borders must either extradite them for prosecution by the country where the offense occurred, or initiate prosecution themselves. The U.S. government has strongly supported this approach, as is the case, for example, with the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the truck bombing of the U.S. barracks in Dharhran, Saudi Arabia, and other similar terrorist and war crime activities. However, the U.S. government recently declined to extradite or prosecute Emmanuel Constant, an alleged Haitian torturer, purportedly to keep from focusing public attention on the fact that Mr. Constant may have been receiving payments from the Central Intelligence Agency during the time when he was engaged in torture related activity. Instead, the government entered into an agreement with Mr. Constant to find him a safe haven in neutral territory, over the strenuous objections of the Haitian government.

Required Action -- Extradition of Torturers: Torturers found in the U.S. should be returned to their home countries for prosecution, or, if this is not possible because of the possibility of their own torture or the lack of ability or willingness of their home governments to bring them to justice, they should be prosecuted for their crimes in the United States as expeditiously as possible.

6. Failure to Provide for Adequate Domestic Implementation

Despite the obligation under CAT to take necessary action to assure domestic implementation and to provide effective remedies to victims of violations, the U.S. government has not taken sufficient steps to enforce CAT's provisions in domestic law. Although a general law affirming the basic principles of the treaty was adopted, specific legislation implementing the critical Article 3 non-return prohibition of CAT, and making this standard legally enforceable at the domestic level, was not made part of U.S. law until October, 1998. As important, the provision that was adopted contained restrictions on coverage that were not consistent with the unequivocal prohibitions of CAT. It incorporates restrictions on judicial review of rejections of Article 3 non-return petitions, and denies Article 3 protection to certain categories of asylum seekers, such as criminals and terrorists, which is not in accord with the language and intent of CAT.

A related problem is that a reservation was added by the U.S. Senate to the instrument ratifying CAT suggesting that its provisions were not "self-executing," and therefore could not be enforced domestically by victims of violations. The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations, in General Comment 24, has suggested that a "non-self executing" reservation runs directly counter to the underlying necessity for international human rights treaties to be enforceable domestically, and renders "ineffective ... rights which would require [a] change in national law to ensure compliance." The U.S. government's non-self executing claim makes the need for specific implementing legislation even greater. This problem is further compounded by the fact that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA -- the appellate body for asylum cases) has erroneously applied the non-self-executing reservation to prohibit the use of CAT's provisions in regular asylum proceedings.

As noted above (section 4), one of the most notable deficiencies in terms of domestic implementation is the failure of the newly enacted Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, and its implementing regulations, which seek to establish one unified, comprehensive system for processing all immigration and asylum claims, to acknowledge that torture provides an entirely separate and additional ground, along with fear of persecution, for not returning someone to their country of origin. This is a significant omission, since in order to establish fear of persecution as a basis for asylum it is necessary to link the persecution that has occurred or is feared to one of five specifically enumerated reasons -- race, religion, nationality, political opinion or social group. Under the Convention Against Torture no such linkage is required, and the reason for the torture need not be considered, making it easier for a torture victim to prove eligibility for non-refoulement. INS has issued an internal guideline to its personnel acknowledging that they are bound by CAT's non-return prohibition, and administrative procedures have been set up on an ad hoc basis to review CAT Article 3 petitions. But the INS and the BIA refuse to accept CAT's applicability to regular asylum cases, and have rejected efforts by asylum seekers to invoke Article 3 as an additional basis for preventing deportation, in large part because of the long delay in Congress' adoption of implementing legislation for Article 3.

Consistent with the requirement of Article 14 of CAT, additional implementing action also is required to provide for adequate compensation and treatment of torture victims. Although the U.S. government has adopted legislation affirming the right of victims to be compensated by their abusers through tort claims, this is limited to torture taking place abroad, and does not address the equally important needs of assuring compensation for torture experienced in the U.S., and providing adequate medical treatment and psychological counseling to victims from foreign countries.

Required Action -- Domestic Implementation: Implementing legislation and administrative regulations should be amended to eliminate restrictions on judicial review and on who is eligible to invoke Article 3 protections that are included in the October, 1998 implementing provisions. Article 3's non-return prohibition should be recognized as applying to all proceedings that could lead to an order of deportation, including the regular asylum process, not just specialized CAT petitions.

7. Arms Sales and Other Assistance by the U.S. Government that Support Torture in Foreign Countries

While CAT does not specifically address the problem of governments providing arms or other assistance that is used to promote torture in other countries, it is reasonable to interpret the prohibition against torture as preventing these forms of "indirect" support for acts of torture committed abroad. Two forms of assistance along these lines by the U.S. government have recently begun to receive public attention and condemnation. First, the government transferred or authorized the sale of military equipment to several governments that have used these armaments in acts of torture. Human Rights Watch has documented that U.S. weaponry sent to Turkey, notably small arms and helicopters, has played a major role in a wide range of abusive practices committed against the Kurdish minority civilian population. Along similar lines, Amnesty International in its April, 1998 review of human rights violations by the U.S., has reported several cases involving the transfer of electronic stun equipment to governments likely to use them to engage in human rights violations, such as the shipment of 10,000 shock batons to Turkey. Similar problems have been raised in connection with proposed arms shipments to Peru and Indonesia.

Another form of support for torture relates to training foreign police and military personnel in torture techniques. Reports have surfaced recently about U.S. supplied training manuals and courses given in the School for the Americas that advocated or encouraged torture as an instrument for dealing with insurgents. There also have been reports of U.S. military trainers being sent to Sri Lanka and other countries, in situations that suggest that their work may be related to operations to control the civilian populations through techniques that involve torture and other forms of abusive treatment and punishment.

Required Action -- Arms Sales: Arms sales to governments engaged in a pattern and practice of torture and repression of their civilian populations, and training and assistance provided to foreign military and security forces involved in these practices, should end.

8. Abuse in Treatment of Those Considered Mentally Ill

Practices used in the care of mentally disabled persons in government operated facilities, such as extended and indefinite use of restraints, long-term isolation, and the involuntary administration of dangerous chemical treatments, frequently involve prohibited elements of punishment, intimidation, coercion and discrimination that cannot be justified by medical or safety considerations.

Required Action--Treatment of the Mentally Ill: Abusive practices used in the treatment of the mentally ill must be more carefully reported and monitored to prevent abuses, and to assure that they are administered only for medical or safety considerations.

9. Involuntary Human Scientific Experimentation

Considerable evidence recently has surfaced that the U.S. government, in past years, has conducted a number of what have been classified as "scientific" experiments on human subjects without their knowledge or consent. This includes large-scale exposures to radiation emissions, and purposeful denial of available medical treatment to African-American syphilis victims, allegedly for medical testing. Recent media disclosures and admissions by government officials suggest that the scope of these "experiments" has been far wider than previously acknowledged. As was true for the human experimentation conducted by the Nazis in prison camps during World War II, the "so-called" scientific aspects of these tests do not eliminate the cruel and abusive elements that were involved. Nor do they justify the severe pain and suffering imposed on individual test victims. Although the tests that have been publicly acknowledged took place some time ago, sufficient action has not been taken to compensate victims, and to assure that similar forms of abusive experimentation would be prevented in the future, especially in newly emerging areas of technology and weapons development.

Required Action -- Human Scientific Experimentation: Additional steps should be taken to assure full disclosure and proper compensation for past involuntary scientific experimentation. Secret testing of technology and weapons on humans, especially without their fully informed knowledge and consent, should not be permitted, and adequate methods for assuring that such practices not take place should be developed.


1. See, The Status of Human Rights in the United States, prepared by a Joint Working Group of Non-Governmental Civil, Political and Human Rights Organizations in the U.S., Edited by Morton Sklar, published by the Science and Human Rights Program, American Association for the Advancement of Science, March, 1995.



World Organization Against 
Torture, USA 
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Washington, DC 20036 
email: woatusa@woatusa.org
phone:    202-861-6494 
fax:        202-659-2724

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