Menu

Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network

Human Rights Defenders

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1

Visitors

774740

"Power always has to be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous."

-- William Proxmire

Five Steps to Tyrany

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, S. Treaty Doc.

No. 100-20 (1988), 1465 U.N.T.S. 85, 113 (1984), at Art. 2

How can we prevent torture?


Association for the Prevention of Torture focuses on  these  objectives for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment of persons with disabilities. 

  1. Transparency
  2. Effective legal frameworks
  3. Capacity building

The  principle of transparency should be applied to closed as well as to open institutions where disabled persons live, as well as outside service delivery systems.

"To you is granted the power of degrading yourself into the lower forms of life, the beasts, and to you is granted the power, contained in your intellect and judgment, to be reborn into the higher forms, the divine."

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola 1463-1494, Italian Renaissance Neoplatonist philosopher, scholar, and humanist whose aim was to conciliate religion and philosophy in 'Oratio de hominis dignitate'

War Crimes and the White House

"Society is produced by our wants and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices."

Thomas Paine 1737–1809,

Anglo-American political theorist and writer in 'Common Sense' (1791)

"We need not throw away 200 years of American jurisprudence while we fight terrorism. We need not choose between our most deeply held values, and keeping this nation safe."

-- Barack Obama

Listen to internet radio with MedicalWhistleblower on Blog Talk Radio

Torture is illegal under both United States and international law. The Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, and it states that treaties signed by the U.S. are the “supreme Law of the Land” under Article Six. The Geneva Convention and The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment both prohibit torture and have been signed by the United States. These laws provide no exception for torture under any circumstances. Moreover, the United States Criminal Code prohibits both torture and war crimes, the latter which includes torture. The Army Field Manual prohibits the use of degrading treatment of detainees.

For the court to expect from torture victims any ‘hard’ evidence, beyond the eloquence of their injuries, is to reward and invigorate the ‘inequality of arms’ inherent in most torture situations.

Partly dissenting opinion of

Judge Bonella,
Sevtap Veznedaroglu v Turkey

Expecting those who claim to be victims of torture to prove their allegations ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ places on them a burden that is as impossible to meet as it is unfair to request. Independent observers are not, to my knowledge, usually invited to witness the rack, nor is a transcript of proceedings in triplicate handed over at the end of each session of torture; its victims cower alone in oppressive and painful solitude, while the team of interrogators has almost unlimited means at its disposal to deny the happening of, or their participation in, the gruesome pageant. The solitary victim’s complaint is almost invariably confronted with the negation ‘corroborated’ by many.


Partly dissenting opinion of

Judge Bonella, Sevtap Veznedaroglu v Turkey

Velvet Revolution - Kevin Zeese

The Velvet Revolution - Attorney Kevin Zeese

The Velvet Revolution and their Disbar Torture Lawyers campaign has alleged that despite very well-established law prohibiting torture, under the Bush administration, torture was authorized by George Bush and kept secret using classified designations. The White House requested legal memoranda to support its use of torture and it received those authored by a host of attorneys, including John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Stephen Bradbury. Attorneys who advised, counseled, consulted and supported those memoranda included Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, Alice Fisher, William Haynes II, Douglas Feith, Michael Mukasey, Timothy Flanigan, and David Addington.  The Velvet Revolution has asserted that these attorneys conspired to violate laws against torture and that their actions resulted in torture and death. Accordingly, these attorneys must be held accountable. We have asked the respective state bars to revoke the licenses of the foregoing attorneys for moral turpitude. They failed to show “respect for and obedience to the law, and respect for the rights of others,” and intentionally or recklessly failed to act competently, all in violation of legal Rules of Professional Conduct. Several attorneys failed to adequately supervise the work of subordinate attorneys and forwarded shoddy legal memoranda regarding the definition of torture to the White House and Department of Defense. These lawyers further acted incompetently by advising superiors to approve interrogation techniques that were in violation of U.S. and international law. They failed to support or uphold the U.S. Constitution, and the laws of the United States, and to maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers, all in violation state bar rules.

www.DisbarTortureLawyers.com

 

 

 

How can we prevent torture in the U.S.A.?

Would it surprise you to know that torture of US Citizens on US soil is not a crime under the US Federal Criminal Code? This does not mean that torture of US citizens does not occur; instead it is an indication that there are inadequate legal means to report and address torture cases in the USA. There are several reasons for this deficiency, despite the United States' obligation under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) to take necessary action to assure domestic implementation and to provide effective remedies to victims of violations. When the U.S.A. ratified CAT, a reservation was added by the U.S. Senate 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 has suggested that a "non-self executing" reservation in regards to CAT runs directly counter to the underlying necessity for international human rights treaties to be enforceable domestically. Thus the U.S. government's non-self executing claim makes the need for specific implementing national legislation on domestic torture even greater.

Let's make torture of US citizens a crime under US law. Sign our petition.

http://www.change.org/medicalwhistleblower/petitions/view/make_torture_of_us_citizens_on_us_soil_a_crime_under_title_18

All human rights violations deserve to remedied and prevented and although problems in the USA do not reach the same level as abuses in other countries, the US should fulfill its responsibilities to be in compliance with CAT. Take for example, the subject of recent Congressional hearings held by Congressman George Miller on abuse of children in residential treatment centers. The Congressional investigation showed that abuse of minor children while held captive in teen rehabilitation centers in the USA still occurs. This is in spite of decades of reports and even previous Congressional reports on SEED and Straight Inc., where thousands of children came forward to report cruel, degrading and abusive treatment which often reached the level of torture and even led to over 40 suicides. Deaths and child abuse in these "residential treatment" programs was recently documented by Greg Kutz, Managing Director, Forensic Audits and Special Investigations, Govt. Accountability Office who testifies to the Committee on Education and Labor. See Video A and Video B

Congressman George Miller (D-California, 7th Congressional District), Chairman, House Education and Labor Committee stated that: "This nightmare has remained an open secret for years. Sporadic news accounts of specific incidents have built a record that should never have been ignored, but shamefully was. The federal government has completely failed to grasp the urgency of this situation."


In addition adequate compensation and treatment of torture victims is needed in order for the USA to be consistent with the requirement of Article 14 of CAT, but again additional implementing national legislative action is still required. Although victims should be able to be compensated by their abusers by seeking damages in tort claims, this avenue is limited to torture happening abroad and does not apply to domestic torture victims. Thus there is inadequate legal means to address the equally important needs of assuring compensation for victims of torture experienced in the U.S. Thus decades later the SEED and Straight Inc. abuses were reported, the victims of this horrendous abuse are still not compensated.

Gender based physical and sexual abuse is all too common an occurrence in prisons, state institutions, rehabilitation centers, and other places of confinement. Thus rape, sexual assault, sexual taunting, and unwarranted visual surveillance of female prisoners in showers and bathrooms commonly occur. There have been inadequate criminal sanctions as well as inadequate polices to prevent abuse. The victims are more likely to be punished than the abusers. Victims of persecution, especially torture and rape, often need time and medical or psychological treatment before they can tell their stories. Lack of understanding of the psychological consequences of sexual torture leads to inadequate or inappropriate services by social service and mental health professionals which often aggravates problems associated with traumatic stress syndrome.

Extended and indefinite use of restraints, long-term isolation, and the involuntary administration of dangerous chemical treatments in institutional settings can occur to those who are mentally disabled and they can also be exposed prohibited forms of punishment, intimidation, coercion and discrimination that cannot be justified by medical or safety considerations. In addition considerable evidence recently has surfaced that the U.S. government has conducted or permitted "scientific" experiments on human subjects without their knowledge or consent and without full disclosure.

It is true that in spite of the US signing and ratifying the UN Convention against Torture (CAT), torture as a distinct crime done by governmental officials in the USA is not punishable under US law. Although torture would clearly be a violation of someone's constitutional rights, there are no laws either state or federal which address police torture. The U.S. government has failed to bring charges against its own officials when implicated in torture and other major human rights abuses. This reality came into sharp focus when a former Chicago police commander, Jon Burge, did not face torture charges for alleged acts of brutality including a mock execution of a detainee, beatings to coerce confessions, using a cattle prod on one suspect's genitals, and burning other prisoners on a hot radiator. Mayor Daley, who was the prosecutor at that time, did not prosecute despite mounting evidence regarding Mr. Burge's systemic abuse of prisoners. From the 1980's till he was fired in 1993, Mr. Burge and other police officers allegedly tortured 110 men. Mistreatment or abuse of prisoners is considered battery by the current laws because in the state of Illinois there is no statute that criminalizes acts of torture by police officers.

Torture is prohibited by US Federal Law under Section 2340A of Title 18, United States Code. This statute prohibits torture committed by public officials under color of law against persons within the public official's custody or control. Torture is defined to include acts specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering. But this statute applies only to acts of torture committed outside the United States. Thus on US soil, torture by public officials on captive detainees is not prosecuted even though it is against the Convention Against Torture and is in violation of international law.

So within the state of Illinois the torture of detained human beings is not punishable, but there is legislation that criminalizes the torture of animals. Under 510 ILCS 70/3.03 Sec. 3.03, Animal Torture is a Class 3 Felony; punishment for a violation includes probation or conditional discharge not to exceed 30 months, and a fine of up to $25,000.00 and incarceration from 2 to 5 years. Thus animals in the state of Illinois have more protection under law against torture than do human beings especially persons of color such as those prisoners tortured and mistreated by Mr. Burge. Human rights and civil rights advocates are calling for new trials for 23 men wrongfully convicted based on coerced confessions in Chicago. Chicago's leading civil rights agencies, like PUSH, NAACP and the Chicago Urban League joined with the Illinois Coalition Against Torture, and a broad coalition of community groups, to try to enact laws that criminalize police torture. The Illinois Coalition Against Torture also wants to remove statutes of limitation that are currently preventing police torture victims from filing criminal charges.

US Congressman Danny K. Davis from Illinois had drafted H.R.5688: The Law Enforcement Torture Prevention Act of 2010 to amend title 18, United States Code, to provide a criminal penalty for torture committed by law enforcement officers and others acting under color of law. This legislation which was intended to give torture victims the redress needed to bring their abusers to justice has not passed out of committee nor garnered adequate support to make it to the floor of the US House of Representatives. There are only a few weeks left in the legislative session and thus this important legislation may need to be reintroduced again in the next session of Congress for any further action to be taken on this important human rights issue.

Please support this important legislation by signing our petition and communicating with your US Congressman/woman.

Let's make torture of US citizens a crime under US law. Sign our petition.

http://www.change.org/medicalwhistleblower/petitions/view/make_torture_of_us_citizens_on_us_soil_a_crime_under_title_18

See full text of this bill at: - Full Text

Prevent Torture of US Citizens

Health professionals complict with torture techniques

"There is no contradiction between effective law enforcement and respect for civil and human rights."

-- Dorothy Height

Banning medical professionals from being involved in torture

Preventing Torture - Still A Lot Needs To Be Done

The President of the United States Barack Obama signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons (CRDP) which is a human rights document that hopes to make human rights protection a reality for the world's 600 million disabled persons. Thus it is the role of the executive branch of the United States government and especially the function of the US Department of Justice to see that the promises made by the President of the United States Barack Obama are fulfilled.

"However, the real work of implementing the Convention is still to be done," said Jennifer Lynch, Chair of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of National Human Rights Institutions. "National institutions must do what they can to inform their governments and citizens of how the Convention can make societies just, equal and accessible for all."

The role of national human rights institutions to promote, protect and monitor the rights of people with disabilities is set out in Article 33 of the CRPD. The Asia Pacific Forum or APF developed a background paper on Article 33. The role of protecting the rights of the disabled falls not just on national institutions but also requires a partnership with people with disabilities who understand the social environment which underlies disability discrimination and disadvantage. Thus through collaborative partnerships and cross agency and cultural communication we can build a deeper understanding of disability issues and address the structural barriers that lie at the heart of discrimination. [i]

How can we prevent Torture?

Association for the Prevention of Torture focuses on these objectives for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment.

 

  1. Transparency
  2. Effective legal frameworks
  3. Capacity building
  4. The principle of transparency should be applied to closed, as well as to open institutions, where disabled persons live, as well as outside service delivery systems. An important aspect of torture is the act of legal incapacitation which restricts personal freedom and self-determination. Individual autonomy is important as is the entitlement to support when needed in order to ensure substantial equality in the exercising one's legal rights within a constitutional or human rights context. Legal capacity refers to an individual's status and authority within a given legal system. It encompasses both passive rights (such as ownership or inheritance of property) and active rights (such as the rights to conclude contracts, administer property, appear in court as a party or witness, or give or refuse consent to medical procedures). Capacity to act implies personal authority to exercise rights and responsibilities; without it, a person may have rights and responsibilities in name only, and decision-making authority can be transferred to another person or institution. Capacity to act presupposes the capacity to have rights.
  5. The right of respect for integrity of the person is recognized in regional human rights treaties and may also be seen as a positive and more general expression of the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This human right is the right "to protect both the dignity and the physical and mental integrity of the individual." It is also important to protect "free and informed consent of the person concerned, according to the procedures laid down by law."[ii] Any laws regarding free and informed consent would also have to comply with non-discrimination and equal recognition of legal capacity. The United Nations Human Rights documents do not appear to allow for any substantive regulation or limitation of the right, consistent with its elevation as an aspect of respect for integrity of the person. This right is non-derogable right guaranteed by international treaty. Non-derogable is used within a legal context to stipulate those rights specified in a treaty that nation states cannot violate under any circumstances. These differ from derogable rights. In the practice of international human rights law, any state can formally file a notice of derogation from a human rights treaty during a state of emergency. This is a public statement to the effect that they are no longer protecting the rights under particular clauses of the treaty in question. Britain did this in 2001, for instance, derogating from clauses in the European Convention on Human Rights, allowing them to implement certain anti-terrorism measures.

    However, there are certain rights that are considered to be 'non-derogable,' meaning that states have no legal basis, even in a state of emergency, to refuse to honor these rights. The right to life and rights protecting against torture generally fall within this category in most international human rights treaties and as part of customary international law, although others can be included depending on the treaty in question. The provisions of international law prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are among the most serious obligations placed on any state; the prohibition of torture in particular has the status of a peremptory norm of international law that can never be derogated and is imposed independent of whether a state is party to any particular treaty. The prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, is understood broadly to protect against acts done in a public or private capacity. Cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment, unlike torture, is not defined in international law, but similar preventive obligations apply, and these obligations also require eliminating conditions that facilitate torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  6. What is Torture?
  7. The CAT [iii] definition is the most widely applicable. It reads:

"...the term 'torture' means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person



 

Deprivation of liberty should not based on disability

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."

-- Thomas Jefferson

Forced Intervention

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.” 

Abraham Lincoln

What is Torture?

This can be broken down into the following elements:

1. Severe physical or mental pain or suffering 

2. Intentionally inflicted

3. For purposes such as:

Obtaining information or a confession 

Punishment

Intimidation or coercion

Any reason based on discrimination of any kind

4. By or at the instigation of or with consent or acquiescence of a public official

Often people make a distinction between physical and mental torture. But in reality there is little difference in the effects on the person tortured because the goal is to break the personality of the person tortured in order to gain his/her submission to power. Whether physical means or psychological means are practiced makes little difference in the ultimate character of what constitutes torture. The long lasting effects of brutal physical means of torture are mainly psychological. In addition physical pain is often used to augment psychological means of torture. The result is the same, a breakdown of the person's perception of self, a disintegration of their individual personality and destruction of their self will.

What is Torture of a Disabled Person? 

The torture of prisoners was one of the early concerns of human rights defenders such as the use of medical examinations during police interrogations. But torture does not only apply to those who are prisoners of war but also to all persons who are kept imprisoned, including those in mental health institutions, and rehabilitation treatment centers where disabled, children and elderly persons are detained, isolated from the outside world and dependent on their captors.

In an Annex IV to the UN Declaration of Human Rights of the Disabled, Theresia Degenerstated "It is no secret that the most vulnerable members of society are most likely to be affected by torture and ill treatment. While the average non-disabled white man is only vulnerable when deprived of his freedom and weapons, most persons with disabilities are vulnerable everywhere and at all times."

 Ill treatment of disabled persons has routinely occurred due to the prevailing medical model of disability. Because within the context of the medical model of disability human rights violations can be disguised by medical treatment, torture and ill treatment are legitimized or ignored by seeing the disabled person as a problem not as a right holder. The standard belief held by many in the medical community is that the disabled person is the "problem" thus sees medical intervention as the solution which is imposed from outside on the disabled individual and often times without patient informed consent. The current prevailing medical model sees the "problem" of disability within the person and sees the solution as medical intervention (often forced). Instead the human rights model is willing to locate the "problem" outside the individual and recognizes the possibility of torture and ill-treatment of disabled persons must be guarded against. It will take a considerable change in attitudes to embrace this paradigm shift from the medical model to the human rights model of disability.

Nonconsensual psychiatric and medical interventions have been contemplated as torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in treaty negotiations and by U.N. Special Rapporteurs. United Nations Consultant, Theresia Degener, states in her Recommendations to the Special Rapporteur in Annex IV to state that "Today we have heard about the atrocities which happen worldwide to persons with disabilities in- and outside of institutions. We have heard that torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment may result in impairments, may aggravate existing impairments and that torture and similar forms of treatment may take different forms when it comes to the treatment of disabled persons."

Torture is never acceptable. The physical scars of torture are not as damaging in the long run as the psychological scars which last a life time. It is a highly effective means of controlling populations: torture destroys leaders, disintegrates opposition and terrorizes communities. Torture is not an effective means of interrogation and does not yield useful or truthful information in prison interrogations or in psychiatric evaluations. The goal of torture is actually to cause the integrity of a person's personality to disintegrate and to make the person submissive to the persons in power. Discrimination against the victim of torture contributes to dehumanizing the victim, and can make victims less credible or not fully entitled to equal protection in the eyes of police or other authorities to whom they might complain for redress. Thus psychological torture can be used to silence those who are whistleblowers and raising legitimate concerns about social and governmental problems.

Personal accounts attest to long term life altering effects of both physical and mental pain and suffering caused by nonconsensual administration of neuroleptic drugs, electroshock, and other psychiatric interventions, when it occurred and for a long time afterwards. The Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture goes the farthest of any human rights instruments in directly prohibiting the use of these techniques aimed at the disintegration of the personality or reduction of physical or mental capacities, which would include psychotropic drugs and brain-damaging procedures like electroshock and psychosurgery. [iv]

In the Recommendations in Annex IV Theresia Degener states "Thus, we may conclude that there are two typical categories of torture and ill treatment with respect to persons with disabilities. The first could be called torture through medicalization of inhuman and degrading treatment, the second could be called torture through neglect."  

A medical diagnosis or impairment as such should never be a legitimate ground for forced intervention, treatment or detention. The Committee of the Disability Rights Convention (CRDP) encompasses such a norm in Article 14 where it says "that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty." This is a very important normative standard to be implemented in psychiatric and other facilities. A human rights model of disability demands that forced intervention should not be made merely on a medical diagnosis but instead on the behavior of the individual patient. Nondisabled persons by law usually have recourse to the courts and thus judicial review of their case if subjected to detention or any form of forced intervention.The normative standard in Article 15 (2) of CRPD demands that prevention of persons with disabilities from being subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment shall be "on an equal basis with others." Thus to provide disabled persons with full and equal human rights protection there needs to be checks and balances in the control of the executive branch as well as full investigation of any violation of human rights law.



Mind-control techniques, including the use of chemical substances,[v] have been used increasingly by those who do torture. Some of these mind control substances have permanent debilitating consequences on the prisoner/patient. Neuroleptic drugs can have an effect of perception that causes loss or separation from self, causing terror and panic that may lead to desperate acts such as homicide and suicide. [vi] Neuroleptic drugs have the signature effects EPS (extra-pyramidal symptoms)[vii] such as psychic apathy or numbing and movement disorders such as akathisia [viii] (extreme restlessness and agitation) with a psychological as well as physical manifestation. Akathisia [ix] can be described as a severe overwhelming sense of gloom and anxiety, an inability to sit still, an intense sense of restlessness and even an almost indescribable sense of terror. When this problem is visible it can manifest itself as a shifting of weight from foot to foot, walking around in the same spot or inability to keep the legs still. This can and is in clinical settings often mistaken for psychotic agitation which then may result in an increase in the dosage of neuroleptic medication thus leading to suicide and homicide. In addition the neuroleptic medications can cause a dysphoric mental state which causes a paralysis of will. So it is no surprise that governments have used these drugs to subject political prisoners to their will and through the effects of mind altering chemicals forced captives to obey them. These drugs can be used make captives sign fabricated statements and to force compliance in video interviews of false confessions. Neuroleptics can also cause a variety of "tardive"[x] or late-appearing syndromes, particularly movement disorders that are frequently irreversible. [xi] Tardive dyskinesia is a neurological syndrome caused by the long-term use of neuroleptic drugs, characterized by repetitive, involuntary, purposeless movements. Symptoms of tardive dyskinesia may remain long after discontinuation of neuroleptic drugs. Overcoming of resistance by intimidation or physical force in order to administer such substances against a person's will, can only be seen as a hostile act, within the meaning of intentional infliction of severe mental or physical pain or suffering. [xii]

Within the context of nonconsensual psychiatric interventions, there is loss of liberty and the length of detention is indeterminate and may depend on one's apparent compliance with arbitrary standards. Persons may be taken in their late teens or early twenties, before they have had a chance to experience their full adult powers and competencies, and thus be able to exert their constitutional rights and advocate for their human rights. Sometimes they were involuntarily detained while they were in the midst of intense psychological experiences, and thus the additional suffering caused by psychological mistreatment and torture can be unbearable. The destruction of a person's identity, self-concept, personal relationship to the world, and their inner subjective experience, may be a process of growth when embarked on by choice. But personality change forced by powerful mind altering drugs imposed by another person, is a violent and extreme human rights violation irrespective of the rationale of the perpetrator. This can lead to patient suicide.

For users and survivors of psychiatry, the disclosure of nonconsensual interventions may itself lead to greater discrimination, including the risk of additional periods of incarceration and forced interventions. So silence blankets this routine abusive treatment and leads to continuation of the practice. In addition the elderly, physically disabled and those with cognitive impairments are often captive to their care givers and are thus particularly vulnerable to violations of their human rights especially when these violations are presented as "medical treatment". The involuntary use of psychotropic medications for restraint and control is common. These drugs have been used to allow nursing homes to decrease night time staffing levels by administering drugs to all the patients to keep them in their beds and to prevent evening demands on the nursing staff. This use of drugs for the convenience of nursing staff, or to increase the profit margin of a nursing facility, constitutes a violation of the human rights of the patients. Many individuals have strong feelings and beliefs against the use of psychotropic medication and thus their use constitutes a violation of their constitutional right to religious practice and belief.

There needs to be two forms of legal protection against torture or ill treatment:

1. Review and control of medical action

Where the medical doctors sufficiently independent and unbiased in their prognosis and diagnosis?

Is the medical diagnosis correct?

Based on the behavior of the patient is the detention and coercion truly necessary?

Has the coercion and detention been reviewed by an outside human rights expert to have been necessary?

2. Provision of reasonable accommodation - Prevention of neglect

Effective prevention requires elimination of conditions that give rise to or facilitate nonconsensual psychiatric interventions. This means such actions as deprivation of liberty and loss of control over personal decision-making, and bundling of services that requires individuals to choose between accepting unwanted psychiatric interventions and losing a home or losing services that are wanted.

Our obligations to human rights also extend to reparations, [xiii] which have both an individual and a collective dimension. Individuals may require compensation, restoration of previous status and possessions, to the extent possible, and rehabilitation (meaning recovery and reintegration services in this context).

Thus this discussion regarding torture is important to every person, as each of us are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse within the medical system if there are not adequate safeguards to prevent it. Please see the following references for further information:

[i] http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01

/F4CE93317605BF3BC12572A50055EE03?opendocument

[ii] Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union art. 3, 2000 O.J. (C 364) 1, 9.

Article 3 reads in full: Right to the integrity of the person

1) Everyone has the right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity. 

2) In the fields of medicine and biology, the following must be respected in particular: 

the free and informed consent of the person concerned, according to the procedures laid down by law,  the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at the selection of persons, the prohibition on making the human body and its parts as such a source of financial gain, the prohibition of the reproductive cloning of human beings. 

[iii] Convention Against Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or

Punishment, G.A. Res. 39/46, at 1, U.N. Doc. A/RES/39/46 (Dec. 10, 1984) [hereinafter CAT].

[iv] Andrew Byrnes, Torture and other Ofenses Involving the Violation of the Physical or Mental Integrity of the Human Person, in SUBSTANTIVE AND PROCEDURAL ASPECTS OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW 214 (Gabrielle Kirk McDonald et al. eds.,  2000).

[v] David Cohen, A Critique of the Use of Neuroleptic Drugs in Psychiatry, in FROM

PLACEBO TO PANACEA: PUTTING PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS TO THE TEST 202 (Seymour Fisher and Roger P. Greenberg, eds., 1997).

[vi] Healy D, Herxheimer A, Menkes DB (2006). "Antidepressants and violence: problems at the interface of medicine and law". PLoS Med. 3 (9): e372. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030372. PMID 16968128.

[vii] Canadian Movement Disorders Group, Drug Induced Movement Disorders: Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, http://www.cmdg.org/Movement_/drug/Neuroleptic_Malignant_Syndrome/neuroleptic_malignant_syndrome.htm

[viii] Akagi H, Kumar TM (2002). "Lesson of the week: Akathisia: overlooked at a cost". BMJ 324 (7352): 15067. doi:10.1136/bmj.324.7352.1506. PMID 12077042

[ix] Szabadi E (1986). "Akathisia--or not sitting". British medical journal (Clinical research ed.) 292 (6527): 10345. doi:10.1136/bmj.292.6527.1034. PMID 2870759.

[x] National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NINDS Tardive Dyskinesia Information Page http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tardive/tardive.htm

[xi] Dystonia fact sheet: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/dystonias/detail_dystonias.htm

[xii] Tina Minkowitz ,The United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the right to be free from nonconsensual psychiatric interventions,Syracuse J. Int'l L. & Com.,Vol. 34:405-428 http://psychrights.org/Countries/UN/TMinkowitzOnNonconsensualPsychInterventions.pdf

[xiii] Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Res. 2005/35, U.N. Doc.  E/CN.4/RES/2005/35 (April 19, 2005).

"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values."

Ayn Rand 1905 - 1982, US Russian-born novelist

The Bivens case and accountability

Section 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, codified as 42 U.S.C. § 1983, authorizes civil lawsuits against state and local government officials for the deprivation of federal constitutional and statutory rights. No analogous statute broadly authorizes similar suits against federal officials. The Supreme Court recognized in Bivens, however, that private citizens have an implied right of action directly under the Constitution to recover damages against federal officials for constitutional violations even where Congress has not conferred such a right by statute. In Bivens, the plaintiff sued federal law enforcement agents for searching his property without a warrant, using excessive force, and arresting him without probable cause. In holding that BivensNos. 10-1687 & 10-2442 45


Long before Bivens, 12 federal courts provided remedies for federal officials’ violations of federal law, and individuals sought post-deprivation remedies against federal officials in federal court. See Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1948, citing, e.g., Dunlop v. Munroe, 11 U.S. (7 Cranch) 242, 268 (1812) (concluding, in case against postmaster, that a federal official’s liability “will only result from his own neglect in not properly superintending the discharge” of his subordinates’ duties); Little v. Barreme, 6 U.S. (2 Cranch) 170, 178-79 (1804) (holding that commander of a warship was “answerable in damages” to the owner of a neutral vessel seized pursuant to orders from
President but in violation of statute).


The plaintiff in Bivens was entitled to sue the agents for damages, the Supreme Court observed that “where federally protected rights have been invaded, it has been the rule from the beginning that courts will be alert to adjust their remedies so as to grant the necessary relief.”

"We must remember that a right lost to one is lost to all."

-- William Reece Smith, Jr

Attorney Kevin Zeese asks for disbarment of torture lawyers

“Is it not the great end of religion, and, in particular, the glory of Christianity, to extinguish the malignant passions; to curb the violence, to control the appetites, and to smooth the asperities of man; to make us compassionate and kind, and forgiving one to another; to make us good husbands, good fathers, good friends; and to render us active and useful in the discharge of the relative social and civil duties?”

  William Wilberforce

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

-- James Madison

Due Process requires pretrial detainees not be punished

The Supreme Court has held: “Due process requires that a pretrial detainee not be punished. A sentenced inmate, on the other hand, may be punished, although that punishment may not be ‘cruel and unusual’ under the Eighth Amendment.”


Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 537 n. 16 (1979) (emphasis added) (concluding that the court of appeals appropriately relied on the Due Process Clause rather than the Eighth Amendment in adjudicating the rights of pretrial detainees); see also Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 671 n. 40 (1977) (finding that “[w]here the state seeks to impose punishment without [an adjudication of guilt], the pertinent constitutional guarantee
is the Due Process Clause”). The government suggests that the constitutional inquiry here requires this court to “wade into the murky waters of that most amorphous of constitutional doctrines, substantive due process.” See Tun v. Whitticker, 398 F.3d 899, 900 (7th Cir. 2005). As we have consistently said, however, “[t]he protections for pre-trial detainees are ‘at least as great as the Eighth Amendment protections available to a convicted prisoner’ . . . and we frequently consider the standards to be analogous.” Washington v. LaPorte County Sheriff’s Dep’t, 306 F.3d 515, 517 (7th Cir. 2002), quoting City of Revere v. Massachusetts Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239, 244 (1983).


We thus look to the case law for both substantive due process and the Eighth Amendment in examining the plaintiffs’ claims.  We are confident that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution meant to forbid abusive
treatment of uncharged and unconvicted detainees where the same abusive treatment of a convicted prisoner would be prohibited.

Criminal Violations under US Criminal Code

Various provisions of US federal law of the Crimes and Criminal Procedure Statute,

Chapter 18 of the US Code (U.S.C.) which prohibits: torture (section 2340A(a)); assault (section 113); sexual abuse (sections 2241-2246); kidnapping (section 1201); homicide (sections 1111-1112 and section 2332); acts against rights (for example, sections 241-242, prohibiting conspiracies to deprive persons of their legal rights); war crimes (section 2441); conspiracy and solicitation of violent crimes (sections 371 and 373); and conspiracy to commit torture (section 2340A(c)).

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Supervisors can be held accountable for actions of their subordinates

Dodds v. Richardson, 614 F.3d 1185, 1199 (10th Cir. 2010) (concluding after Iqbal that “§ 1983 allows a plaintiff to impose liability upon a defendant-supervisor who creates, promulgates, implements, or in some other way possesses responsibility for the continued operation of a policy the enforcement (by the defendant-supervisoror her subordinates) of which” subjects plaintiffs to constitutional violations).

 

Richardson v. Goord, 347 F.3d 431, 435 (2d Cir. 2003) (concluding that supervisory liability under § 1983 may be shown, inter alia, by “creation of a policy or custom that sanctioned conduct amounting to a constitutional violation, or allowing such a policy or custom to continue.”).

Prevent Torture of US Citizens

Does Qualified Immunity protect government officials from obeying CAT

The qualified immunity doctrine protects government officials “from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). As the Supreme Court explained in Pearson v. Callahan, 129 S. Ct. 808, 815 (2009), the doctrine “balances two important interests — the need to hold public officials accountable when they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform their duties reasonably.” 

 

18 U.S.C. § 2340A (statute criminalizing overseas torture) and CAT both make the use of Torture Illegal even when there is a state of war, threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency.   And the prohibition against official torture has attained the status of customary international law and is a jus cogens norm.

 

Thus the torture of a human person violates the most basic terms of the constitutional compact between the government and the citizens of this country.

 

This prohibition regarding torture is true even in a war zone, is unconstitutional.

 

Notes:

See Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, S. Treaty Doc. No. 100-20 (1988), 1465 U.N.T.S. 85, 113 (1984), at Art. 2  (“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”); Siderman de Blake v. Republic 32 Nos. 10-1687 & 10-2442 of Argentina, 965 F.2d 699, 717 (9th Cir. 1992) (concluding that “it would be unthinkable to conclude other than that acts of official torture violate customary international law. And while not all customary international law carries with it the force of a jus cogens norm, the prohibition against official torture has attained that status”).

 

Martin A. Schwartz, Section 1983 Litigation: Claims and Defenses, § 7.19[C], at 7-239 (4th ed. 2010) (noting that “supervisory officials who promulgate policies that are enforced by subordinates are liable if the enforcement of the policy causes a violation of federally protected rights”).

“Obviously, to defeat our enemies we need intelligence, but intelligence that is reliable.  We should not torture or treat inhumanely terrorists we have captured. I believe the abuse of prisoners harms, not helps, our war effort. In my personal experience, the abuse of prisoners sometimes produces good intelligence, but often produces bad intelligence because under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear – whether it is true or false – if he believes it will relieve his suffering.  Often, information provided to stop the torture is deliberately misleading.  And what the advocates of cruel and harsh interrogation techniques can never prove is that we could not have gathered the same intelligence through other, more humane means – as a review of the facts provides solid reason to be confident that we can.  The costs of assuming otherwise can be hugely detriment," 

Senator John McCain

Remarks by Senator John McCain on the floor of the U.S. Senate on the debate on the use of troture  May 12, 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3I94Yb4KUic&feature=player_embedded

What is the role of the Office of Special Counsel in Protecting Human Rights?

Whistleblowers and Mandated Reporters constitute our human rights national alert system and tell us when there is something seriously wrong within our community or within the governmental bureaucracy. Mandated reporters are critical to the protection of our citizen's human rights and report human rights violations including elder abuse, sexual assault on children, and sometimes report serious violations of international treaty obligations. Mandated reporters are supposed to have protection for their disclosures. But where does that protection reside, in what respective agency- Health and Human Services (HHS), SAMSHA, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or in the US Department of Justice? Well in reality it is a myth that mandated reporters are protected for their disclosures of serious governmental wrongdoing. There is no federal agency that is empowered or obligated to protect them. One of the crucial links in the possible protections for those who are human rights defenders is the expected review of whistleblower complaints that should be provided through the Merit Systems Protections Board and the Office of Special Counsel. The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) hears whistleblower complaints from those who have classified security clearances. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) hears whistleblower complaints from all whistleblowers from all the federal agencies and is the place of final appeal for those denied their complaint under the MSPB. Neither agency hears mandated reporter reports or is obligated to protect mandated reporters. The Office of Special Counsel is the governmental agency tasked to hear all complaints of whistleblower retaliation (after it has already happened that is). In addition it is also the federal agency empowered to investigate violations of the Hatch Act and also and the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Cases in front of the Office of Special Counsel take years to get to a hearing meanwhile there are no meaningful protections for the personal security and safety of the whistleblower nor are there protocols that will protect their personal and professional reputation. Therefore those who do criminal behavior and don’t want to get caught quickly realize that discrediting the whistleblower, using whatever dirty tricks that will get that accomplished, is the way to prevent federal investigation.

Scott Bloch served as Special Counsel for the Office of Special Counsel from 2004 until his removal in 2008. During that time there was essentially no protection for any whistleblower in federal service - this includes no protection for members of the Department of Justice (FBI agents) or any of the investigative agents of any federal agency (FDA, USDA, SAMSHA, Bureau of Prisons, HHS etc.) Thus no investigation into criminal activity occurring within any federal governmental agency would receive a sympathetic ear at the Office of Special Counsel in Washington DC. Hundreds of whistleblower complaints were summarily dismissed by Scott Bloch without any investigation at all. This included all whistleblower complaints from any agency investigating Teen Challenge or any whistleblower that had information regarding Karl Rove's alleged Hatch Act violations.

As President, George W. Bush, sought to duplicate the same regulatory rollbacks for faith-based groups nationwide that he enacted in Texas. This was a political promise he made to the fundamental religious right which had helped him garner the political support to win the Presidential campaign. After gaining the presidency, George W. Bush almost immediately established the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. This was tied to the Charitable Choice legislation (which was part of the 1996 Personal Work and Responsibility Act) and made possible by the Office of the President Executive Order 13199 of President George W. Bush. President George W. Bush asked that new White House office to "identify and act to remedy statutory, regulatory, and bureaucratic barriers that stand in the way of effective faith-based and community social programs." This is almost the same wording that had been used in Texas. In addition, President George W. Bush placed Don Willett to serve as the director of law and policy for the White House office. Don Willet had drafted the Texas legislative bill that allowed the Roloff Homes return to Texas with an exemption from state regulatory oversight and thus evade child abuse investigation by the Texas Attorney General. (see the case of Deanne Dawsey http://www.nospank.net/colloff.htm) Don Willett had listened to Cameron Wiley's theological opposition to state oversight of religious child care facilities and had Cameron Wiley speak to Texas Governor Bush's "Faith in Action" task force. This Faith in Action task force was to recommend in their written report that faith-based child-care facilities be allowed to exempt themselves from state licensure and instead submit to "alternative accreditation"-that is, oversight by a non-governmental body, such as a group of pastors.

Local child protective services first investigated possible abuse at the Rebekah Home in 1973. Lester Roloff took the verse in Proverbs very literally, "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die." This was the discipline mantra of Roloff Homes. Lester Roloff refused to submit to state regulation and after his death in 1982 Wiley Cameron took over Roloff Homes ministry. Wiley Cameron then ran Roloff Homes and the Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises. All the facilities in Texas owned by Roloff Homes including Rebekah Home were been closed for child abuse in 1985 after a series of defeats in the courtroom and by the actions of the Texas Attorney General John Hill.

Texas Governor George W. Bush had used the political support from the fundamentalist churches and to secure votes to win the Presidency. George W. Bush knew that in the upcoming re-election for President it would be necessary to continue to support legislation that would allow church-run child-care institutions to opt out of state licensing. This legislative policy choice allowed George W. Bush to tap into the support of the huge fundamentalist evangelical unregistered voters and get them to vote for him, support his candidates and his policies in the elections.

George W. Bush had shaken a drinking problem in 1986 and thus was supportive of faith based addiction treatment. George W. Bush was later to say that he had experienced a profound spiritual awakening and knew the role that faith could play in recovery. The belief in faith based redemption curing addiction was at the heart of George W. Bush's political campaign strategy. George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st President of the USA, along with Melvin Sembler (of Straight Inc.) had influenced George W. Bush, 43rd President and Jeb Bush, Florida Governor, in their drug addiction rehabilitation. Both George W. Bush and Jeb Bush remained active in the Drug Free America Foundation work. The Drug Free America Foundation was the offshoot of Straight Inc.

Attorney Scott Bloch was appointed by President George W. Bush and served as the Chief Counsel for the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives from 2001-2003. Thus Scott Bloch worked directly with Don Willett to roll out the Faith-based and Community Initiative program as envisioned by George W. Bush. Remember that Don Willett, while working under George W. Bush in the Texas Governor's Office, had argued that the Texas Association of Christian Child-Care Agencies (TACCCA,) should be allowed to be an child care accrediting agency in the state of Texas. This governmental action permitted TACCCA to exempt their child care facilities from state regulation in and inspection in Texas and thus avoid being shut down for child abuse allegations by the Texas AG and thus re-open facilities with a long history of child abuse. Cameron Wiley and other directors of religious facilities being investigated for child abuse made up the 6 person TACCCA board.

For Scott Bloch to use his position as the Deputy Director of the Faith-based and Community Initiative program for political purposes would be a violation of the Hatch Act. The Office of Special Counsel is the government office in charge of protecting government whistleblowers and enforcing the Hatch Act — a law that forbids government employees from using federal resources for political ends. But the agency empowered to investigate violations of the Hatch Act was the Office of Special Counsel, an office of which Scott Bloch was appointed to head in 2004. So in this sequence of political choices by President George W. Bush, Scott Bloch would have had to investigate himself for whistleblower allegations of using the OFBCI program for political purposes.

http://www.osc.gov/hatchact.htm

After a long criminal investigation, involving allegations of obstruction of justice, evidence tampering, destruction of official files, impeding an official federal investigation, civil right violations, as well Hatch act violations and violations of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), Scott Bloch on April 27, 2010 pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of Congress. Scott Bloch, the former Bush administration official who was given the responsibility and obligation to protect whistleblowers instead plead guilty to misdemeanor criminal contempt of Congress. Scott Bloch after pleading guilty attempted to withdraw that plea because Judge Deborah A. Robinson sentenced him to one month in prison. A group of government whistleblowers have requested in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that a special prosecutor appointed to handle the case of former Bush administration official Scott Bloch.

Whistleblowers request special prosecutor in Scott Bloch case
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/documents/2011/02/an-open-letter-from-the-community-of-whistleblowers-to-attorney-general-eric-holder.php?page=1

Scott Bloch served as Deputy Director of the DOJ Task Force for the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI). Attorney Scott Bloch, as a US Attorney, certainly did not do due diligence in determining whether it was appropriate to funnel funds to facilities that would be housing vulnerable children and adults and who were also hiring staff at those facilities who were ex-cons with known criminal convictions for sexual abuse of children, drug dealing, domestic violence and money laundering.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
 
― Leo Buscaglia

Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network

MEDICAL WHISTLEBLOWER ADVOCACY NETWORK

P.O. 42700 

Washington, DC 20015

MedicalWhistleblowers (at) gmail.com

CONTACT

"Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself."  Confucius

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt- Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic", delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910