Electric shocks. Beatings. Rape. Humiliation. Mock executions. Burning. Sleep deprivation. Water torture. Long hours in contorted positions. Use of pincers, drugs, and dogs.
The very words sound like the stuff of nightmares. But every day and across every region of the world, these unimaginable horrors are the reality for countless men, women and children.
Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International
Amnesty International has investigated allegations that detectives in Area 2 and Area 3 police headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, systematically tortured more than 100 suspects between 1972 and 1991. Jon Burge was at the center of these allegations, either directly or through the chain of command. Initially a detective, he held a number of different ranks within Area 2 before becoming the Commander of the Area 2 Violent Crimes Section. Burge later became Commander of the Area 3 Detective Division.
In addition to beatings, individuals alleged that they had been subjected to electric shocks, had plastic bags placed over their heads and had been threatened with mock executions. Forced confessions resulted in dozens of individuals being sentenced to long prison sentences or, in the case of eleven individuals, death sentences. All of the victims were men of color, the majority of them being African American; the detectives were white. Sixteen torture survivors have since been exonerated and released, according to the People’s Law Office of Chicago. There are at least 19 individuals who remain incarcerated and allege they were tortured into confessions. The State of Illinois Torture and Relief Query Commission, an agency set up in 2009 to review the cases of those who claimed to have been tortured, is still reviewing as many as 71 cases where individuals claim torture by Burge, persons under his supervision at the time or involve officers who had previously been under the supervision of Jon Burge but were not at the time of the alleged torture. No one has been prosecuted or convicted for the crime of torture, and the vast majority of those tortured have received no compensation for the extensive psychological injuries suffered.
International law strictly prohibits the use of torture and other ill-treatment and stipulates that governments are responsible for investigating torture allegations, bringing criminal proceedings in torture cases to trial, and compensating victims. The United States has ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, two of the treaties which establish legal provisions for both the prevention of torture and ensuring the dignity of the human person.
Amnesty International makes recommendations for immediate action by city, state and/or federal officials:
International Day in Support of Survivors of Torture: Ensure allegations of torture or other ill-treatment are investigated, perpetrators are prosecuted and victims are compensated. Come rally and march with us to demand The Chicago City Council pass the reparations ordinance for Chicago police torture survivors. We’ll meet at Thompson Center on June 26 at 12pm to hear speakers and slam poets. Then we’ll march to City Hall and end with a flag ceremony to honor Chicago police torture survivors.
Please sign the petition at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/chicagotorture
The war with Boko Haram has killed 12,000 people so far, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said in a speech to a weekend summit in Paris: “Our People had to leave because we didn’t know how to defend ourselves,” says Michael Yohanna, a 57 year old leader of the Christian community in Gwoza, about 100 kilometers northeast of the village of Chibok, where the school girls were abducted.
The statistics are horrifying: in the northeastern district of Gwoza alone, 147 Christians have been killed in the past year, 87 churches have been torched, 56 villages have been emptied of all Christians and close to 15,000 people have been forced to flee, according to the community’s leaders.
Join the campaign:
Education is a Right: free Girls of Chibok
Women and girls are not trophies for war: Boko Haram release the girls!
Goodluck Jonthan protect the human rights of all Nigerians
You can view our photo action here: http://bringbackourgirls.tumblr.com/
You can find more information about this situation here: http://blog.amnestyusa.org/africa/nigeria-bring-back-our-girls/
You can submit your photos at http://bringbackourgirls.tumblr.com/submit
Yesterday, U.S. lawmakers took a historic step forward with the introduction of “Solitary Confinement Study and Reform Act of 2014” in the House of Representatives. As the movement against the abusive practice of long-term solitary confinement in the United States continues to gain momentum, this legislation will help us take a step toward more humane prison practices. It will shine a light on the tens of thousands of human beings condemned to suffer in steel cages with little legal remedy - including children and the mentally-ill. Yesterday, we took another historic step toward justice.
Thanks to Rep. Cedric Richmond, Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Congressman Danny K. Davis, Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas, Rep. Keith Ellison, Representative Marcy Kaptur, Congressmember Karen Bass, Congressman Jared Polis, Robin Kelly, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings, Rep. Gwen S. Moore, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Rep. Shelia Jackson-Lee, and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.