Juan Mendez: “I Was Tortured. I Know How Important It Is To Hold The CIA Accountable”

Juan Mendez, lawyer and human rights activist, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. London 30 June 2014 (c) Amnesty International

Juan Mendez, lawyer and human rights activist, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. London 30 June 2014 (c) Amnesty International

By Juan E. Méndez, United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment

More than once, I begged my torturers to kill me. Years later, I think about it and wonder if I really meant it. I think I did, at the time.

I was tied up, nude and blindfolded, and electrically prodded all over my body. Twice they pretended they were executing me by placing a gun to my head or in my mouth and clicking the trigger.


Victory in Paraguay is a Big Step Forward for Domestic Violence Survivors

no more violence

By Debbie Sharnak, Argentina-Paraguay country specialist

On August 27, 2014, Paraguay took a huge step forward in promoting the rights of domestic violence survivors when they released Lucia Sandoval from prison. Sandoval had been in jail for over three years on the charge of homicide after she defended herself against an abusive husband. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What’s next for women’s rights? Have your say!


IWD-WRRHR5This month we celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8 and the kick-off of the 59th UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Both of these events happen every year. But this year is special.

2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the landmark framework on women’s health and rights. This is where our rallying cry, “women’s rights are human rights,” originated (though the concept has been around a lot longer than 20 years!). It’s also the basis of our My Body My Rights campaign, which seeks to accelerate progress on comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights, issues that still have a long way to go. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Four Questions for Prime Minister Netanyahu

(Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

(Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to give two major speeches in Washington, DC.  The first is Monday at the conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  The second is on Tuesday before the U.S. Congress.

Tuesday’s speech has been generating headlines, with more than 30 Members of Congress reportedly declaring that they will not attend.  But despite the controversy surrounding Netanyahu’s invitation to speak before Congress, the policies of his government are what deserve real scrutiny.

Here are four key questions that Prime Minister Netanyahu should have to answer while he makes the rounds in Washington, DC: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Untold Stories of Syria’s Most Vulnerable Refugees


What happens when a crisis so prolongs that the world tires of it? 

You get 3.7 million Syrian refugees.

You get stories like the one told by this woman living in a refugee camps. She has been in a Lebanese camp for three years with her two sons, one of whom is autistic. She has necessities, but little else; what she dreams of is that her children get an education. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Stop. Tweet. #StopTorture and Demand Reparations in Chicago.

chaynera blind finalOctober 24th is United Nations Day –meant to commemorate the passage of the Charter of the United Nations.  One of the principles of the UN Charter, enshrined in the preamble, is:

“to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, andto establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Israel/Palestine Conflict: Why now is the time to change to a human rights approach

Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City
The same day Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, visited the Gaza Strip saying, “a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations” was the root cause of latest escalation in violence, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People hosted a lecture by Noam Chomsky in the UN General Assembly Hall on resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict.

It couldn’t have happened at a more pivotal time. Significant movement is happening globally and with Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that the Quartet (the U.S., the U.N., Russia and European Union) are meeting this Friday in Brussels, it’s time for the international community to finally end the status quo.


‘There Are No Human Rights on a Dead Planet’ Why On Earth Is Amnesty International Joining the People’s Climate March?

300.000 signatures for ShellBy Aaron Tovo, Amnesty International USA volunteer leader and Area Coordinator (Minnesota)

I’m going to New York this weekend to make history and to make change. And I’m not the only one.

On Sunday, 100,000+ people are expected to gather in New York for the largest climate march in history.   We are going to New York as heads of state from across the world prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The Terrifying Reason 64% of Mexicans Fear Detention

Facts and Figures infographicsBy Esmeralda Lopez, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Mexico My desire to end torture in Mexico runs deep. Years ago it became too dangerous for me to visit my family in Mexico because they are only hours from Ciudad Juarez, a hot spot of violence. Some officers point to incidents of violence and the high crime rate as justification for use of torture. But I know torture is not the solution. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Burned, Beaten, and Electrocuted: One Survivor’s Shocking Story of Torture in Morocco

Farida Aarrass has spent the last 5 years campaigning for justice for her younger brother Ali Aarrass (Photo Credit: Filip Claus/Amnesty International).

Farida Aarrass has spent the last 5 years campaigning for justice for her younger brother Ali Aarrass (Photo Credit: Filip Claus/Amnesty International).

By Jihane Bergaoui, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Morocco and Western Sahara

In December 2010, Ali Aarrass, a Belgian-Moroccan coffee shop owner was extradited from Spain to Morocco, where Moroccan intelligence held him in a secret prison for 12 days in Témara, near the capital city of Rabat.

Ali described the anguish his muscles and joints experienced while he was suspended from his wrists for extended periods of time, the searing pain of feeling his flesh being burned by cigarettes, enduring excruciating electric shocks to his testicles, having his head held under water until he fainted, being raped with a glass bottle, and having the soles of his feet beaten raw. He remained in the secret holding facility until he signed a “confession” pre-written for him in Arabic – a language he does not speak.