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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

AFJ joins "Public Witness Against Torture"

By Matthew Greig
AFJ Klagsbrun Fellow

On June 26, Alliance for Justice participated in a Public Witness Against Torture event on Pennsylvania Avenue just outside the White House. This event commemorated the United Nations International Day in Support of Torture Victims and called for the closing of Guantanamo.

Photo by Elana Kessler
Sponsored by National Religious Campaign Against Torture, this event was held as a part of Torture Awareness Month.  The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture was named by the United Nations in June 26, 1997 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the date that the Convention Against Torture came into force.  Torture Awareness Month honors that day and extends the campaign throughout the month of June. Some of the national groups participating in Torture Awareness Month include: American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Victims of Torture, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch.

It was incredibly moving to hear the stories of those of not only the Guantanamo prisoners themselves, but also their families.  This event was held against the backdrop of the ongoing hunger strike at Guantanamo.  We at Alliance for Justice have been concerned about torture for many years.  Our 2009 First Monday video, Tortured Law, is a 10-minute documentary that examines the role lawyers played in authorizing torture.

The video was used to spark debate across the country.  It called on Attorney General Eric Holder to uphold the Constitution and the law by releasing the Justice Department’s report on the “torture memos” and authorizing a full investigation of those who ordered, designed, and justified torture.

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