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Torture Investigations

PHR uses forensic science to investigate, document, and advocate against torture of US-held detainees, and through its Asylum Program, to conduct medical and psychological forensic evaluations of survivors of torture and abuse who seek asylum in the US.

Current Investigations:

Senate Report Confirms Ethical Breaches of Health Professionals in CIA Torture Program (April 11, 2014)

The leaked summary of the findings from the Senate Select Intelligence Committee's report confirm previous reporting by PHR: The CIA enlisted health professionals to use their skills to destroy the minds of prisoners, breaking with longstanding ethical and legal obligations of health professionals.

Medical Professionals Welcome Senate Decision to Share the Truth on CIA Torture (April 3, 2014)

PHR welcomed today’s bipartisan decision by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) to declassify the executive summary and 20 findings and conclusions in the committee’s report on CIA detention and interrogation practices.

Maine Doctors Urge Senate to Release Torture Report (March 18, 2014)

In an effort to press Maine senators Susan Collins and Angus King to support the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture, medical professionals have launched a statewide campaign calling on them to vote in support of releasing this critical information.

PHR Calls on Honduran Government to Address Impunity for Ill-Treatment and Torture (February 12, 2014)

PHR issued a report today, finding that the Honduran authorities failed to ensure justice in cases involving torture and/or ill-treatment following the 2009 coup d’état, and called on the Honduran government to ensure that these cases are prosecuted and the judicial system is restored.

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The Need for Transparency in U.S. Detention and Interrogation Practices (April 1, 2014)

This week, a group of senators will have the ability to move forward and acknowledge the U.S. government’s use of torture and prevent future abuse.

Calculating the Immeasurable: Somali Torture Victim Wins $15 Million in Civil Damages (August 23, 2013)

This week an Ohio judge awarded $15 million to Abukar Hassan Ahmed, a Somali constitutional law professor and human rights advocate, following a civil trial in which a Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) volunteer doctor delivered testimony crucial to the case.

Anti-Torture Update: Take Action to End Torture (January 3, 2013)

January 11, 2013, marks the 11th anniversary of the day detainees were first brought to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The National Defense Authorization Act 2013 (NDAA) recently passed by Congress and signed by President Obama does little to shut down the Guantanamo prison, though the President had promised to close it almost four years ago.

Uzbekistan’s ‘House of Torture’ Is No ‘Home Sweet Home’ (August 17, 2012)

Uzbekistan, already notorious for its deplorable prison conditions and abuse of prisoners, has one prison that stands out more gruesome and horrific than the rest: Jaslyk Prison. Its prisoners, at least those lucky enough to live to tell their tales, have described the myriad methods of torture used at the prison, including sexual assault, needles forced under prisoners’ fingernails, electric shock, and long periods of isolation in solitary confinement without food or drink.

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PHR Joins Letter Urging White House to Lead in Declassifying Torture Report (April 2014)

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) joins seven other organizations in calling on President Obama and the White House staff to lead the declassification process of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. The letter emphasizes that the United States must reckon with the past in order to prevent torture in the future. Releasing the committee’s report is a foundational step in that process.

Impunity in Honduras (February 2014)

PHR sent a team of forensic experts to Honduras to investigate cases of alleged torture and ill-treatment by the country’s security forces that had occurred in the aftermath of the 2009 coup d’état.

President Obama Urged to Coordinate Executive Branch Response to Senate Committee's Study on CIA Interrogation Program (May 2013)

PHR has joined seven other NGOs, including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, The Center for Victims of Torture, and others, to urge President Obama to make sure the Executive Branch response to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence study is not driven by individuals who might be implicated in the CIA’s use of torture.

Ending Impunity: The Use of Forensic Medical Evaluations to Document Torture and Ill Treatment in Kyrgyzstan (October 2012)

Torture and ill treatment are widespread and systematic in Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian countries. During 2011-2012, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has worked to transform Kyrgyzstan’s stated policy of zero tolerance for torture and ill treatment into action. The initiative is intended to serve as model to end impunity for torture in the region as well.

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Featured Investigation

Honduras: Constitutional Crisis and Coup D’état (2009)

In 2009, Honduran President Zelaya's attempt to reform the constitution was seen as a threat by the military and legislative branch. It was thought Zelaya would attempt to eliminate presidential term limits, so on June 28 he was overthrown in a coup. Read More »

Featured Expert

Scott Allen, MD

Scott A. Allen, MD, FACP

Dr. Scott Allen serves as medical advisor to PHR on our work in stopping torture and was lead medical author of PHR's reports “Experiments in Torture,” “Aiding Torture,” and “Leave No Marks.” Read More »