Why is June Torture Awareness Month?

Torture activism in front of the White HouseEvery year, human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, National Religious Campaign Against Torture and the Center for Victims of Torture mark June as Torture Awareness Month. Why?

The short answer is because it’s when a very important treaty against torture took effect and there are still people who flout it—people like Jose Rodriguez, the former CIA official who went on 60 Minutes recently to promote waterboarding and other forms of torture and ill-treatment.

Let’s start with the law. It’s called the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT for short) and it entered into force on June 26, 1987. That’s why June 26 is marked as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture—and why we’re calling on President Obama to apologize to torture survivor Maher Arar on that day. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Bush-Era Memo Raises New Questions About Torture and Accountability


Last weekend the State Department released a draft copy of a highly critical internal memo about the CIA’s use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ that had long since been believed lost to posterity.

The draft, written by State Department Counselor Philip Zelikow in 2006, was uncovered by a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the former Washington Independent reporter Spencer Ackerman. The final memo had been considered so explosive that the Bush administration instructed every single copy be collected and destroyed.

The memo was prepared in response to the passage of new legislation through Congress – the McCain amendment to the Detainee Treatment Act – that prohibited cruel, inhuman and degrading (CID) treatment or punishment. There was no way for the Bush administration to avoid the need to reevaluate the CIA black site program against a CID standard.


Canada Should Arrest and Prosecute George W. Bush on Visit

george bush

© Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Former president George W. Bush has reportedly raked in millions of dollars on the speaking circuit, and tomorrow he heads to British Columbia, Canada for another speaking event.  And, it looks like he will come and go with utter impunity.

Something about that sounds wrong.  In fact, it is wrong:  Canada, as a party to the UN Convention Against Torture, has a legal responsibility to arrest, investigate and prosecute (or extradite for prosecution to a willing country) anyone suspected of torture.  So, it would seem that a Bush visit north of the border would prompt Canadian authorities to slap the former president with an arrest warrant.