The Minneapolis City Council signed today a resolution calling for President-elect Barack Obama to ban torture and added torture to the list of things for which the city lobbies the federal government. Minneapolis joins Dayton, Ohio and Baltimore, Maryland to get on board the resolution that would, among other things, give all detainees the opportunity to prove their innocence, and set a national standard for interrogation and treatment of prisoners. The resolution is spearheaded by the Minnesota-based Center for the Victims of Torture which treat torture survivors both in America and in several foreign countries including an outpost to treat Iraqi victims in Jordan. Read the full press-release below.
Efforts Align with National, Bipartisan Effort Led by Retired Military Chiefs, Religious Leaders of Many Faiths & National Security Experts
Minneapolis, MN- Today, December 12, the Minneapolis City Council, voted to add banning torture to their federal lobbying agenda. In doing so, Minneapolis became the third U.S. city--together with Dayton, Ohio, and Baltimore, Maryland--to formally voice support for a national effort to ban torture, sponsored by the Center for Victims of Torture. City Councilmember Elizabeth Glidden, 8th Ward, led the effort within the Council to support a Presidential ban on torture. The decision comes at a particularly important time, as President-elect Obama has made several strong verbal commitments to ending torture as a part of U.S. interrogation methods.
"Because the Twin Cities are one of the top destinations in America for asylees and refugees seeking to rebuild their lives, it was crucial that Minneapolis voice its support for ending U.S. use of torture and cruelty," said Councilmember Elizabeth Glidden, 8th Ward, who spearheaded the effort to pass this legislative language. "Many of the asylees and refugees have suffered torture and cruelty in their home countries. For these individuals, the U.S. represents the protection of basic human dignity and the opportunity to heal. U.S. policies that sanction torture and cruelty conflict with the image of America that has served as a source of hope and inspiration for these survivors for decades."
The City Council voted to add to their federal lobbying agenda the following items:
Prisoner Treatment, Torture and Cruelty: Support for an Executive Order: The city of Minneapolis has been since 1985 the home of the Center for Victims of Torture. The center has worked with many victims of torture and abuse who have made Minneapolis and its surrounding communities home.
The city is concerned about the use of torture and recommends that the President of the United States issue an Executive Order. The Order should state that the United States
will not authorize or use methods of interrogation that would we would not find acceptable if used against Americans;
will have a national standard for use in the interrogation and treatment of prisoners;
will acknowledge that all prisoners will have the opportunity to prove their innocence in ways that conform to American principles of fairness;
will commitment to ending the use of torture and cruelty in the world, and
will provide the Congress and Judiciary with access to information regarding our detention and interrogation policies.
"It is encouraging to see a growing number of city councils voice their support for a ban on torture. I am confident in President-elect Obama's intentions to restore America's moral integrity by banning torture and cruelty. It is vital that the American people continue to remind him just how important this issue is to them," said Douglas A. Johnson, Executive Director of the Minneapolis-based Center for Victims of Torture (CVT). "If we can continue to add more local government support to the hundreds of military, security, and religious leaders who have already endorsed this effort, we can ensure that President-elect Obama knows where Americans stand on banning torture and cruelty."
About the Campaign to Ban Torture
CVT is a founder of the Campaign to Ban Torture along with the National Religious Campaign against Torture and Evangelicals for Human Rights. The Campaign is a nationwide effort to advance the Declaration of Principles for a Presidential Executive Order on Prisoner Treatment, Torture and Cruelty--six guidelines for humane treatment crafted to serve as the basis for an Executive Order.
Over two hundred high level military, foreign policy, national security, and religious leaders have called for a Presidential ban on torture. The bipartisan group includes six former Secretaries of State or Defense, three former National Security Advisors, four former members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Evangelical, Baptist, Catholic, and other religious leaders.
To learn more, visit www.campaigntobantorture.org.
About Center for Victims of Torture
Founded in 1985, CVT was the first comprehensive torture treatment facility in the United States, and the third in the world. It has provided care to thousands of torture survivors at its clinics in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Earlier this year, CVT opened a rehabilitation program for Iraqi torture survivors living in Jordan.
For more information, visit www.cvt.org.