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A Resolution Against the Use of Torture as a Violation of the American Library Association's Basic Values

RESOLVED, That ALA condemns the use or threat of use of torture by the US government as a barbarous violation of human rights, intellectual freedom and the rule of law. The ALA decriesalong with the practice of torture anywherethe suggestion by the US government that under a 'state of emergency' in this country, or in territories it occupies, torture is in any case an acceptable tool in pursuit of its goals.


Torture and Social Scientists (November 22, 2006)

"[W]hen anthropologists learned that some of their scholarship may have inspired tactics used in the Abu Ghraib prison — and may be increasingly central to the interrogation of prisoners being held by U.S. forces in many locations, sometimes without standard protections — many were taken aback."

ALA Opposes Torture (November 2, 2006)

"Mark Twain noted in his "The Lowest Animal," Letters from the Earth, that "Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it. It is a trait that is not known to the higher animals."  See's The Abu Ghraib files."

See Also

The Abolition of Torture (December 19, 2005)

"And, if they are human, then they must necessarily not be treated in an inhuman fashion. You cannot lower the moral baseline of a terrorist to the subhuman without betraying a fundamental value. That is why the Geneva Conventions have a very basic ban on "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment"—even when dealing with illegal combatants like terrorists. That is why the Declaration of Independence did not restrict its endorsement of freedom merely to those lucky enough to find themselves on U.S. soil—but extended it to all human beings, wherever they are in the world, simply because they are human."

The Torture Question (October 2005)

"In mid-August, a FRONTLINE documentary crew made the perilous journey to the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Entering the 280-acre compound in the middle of the night, escorted by helicopters and a convoy of armed Humvees, the crew was following 50 detainees fresh from the battlefield. As they were ordered to kneel in formation on the concrete floor, one detainee nervously asked the FRONTLINE cameraman, "Is this Abu Ghraib?" The answer brought a shudder."

Update in ACLU Torture FOIA Lawsuit (August 16, 2005)

"Following a two-hour closed hearing in New York on August 15, a federal judge ordered the government to reveal blacked-out portions of its legal papers arguing against the release of images depicting abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib. The government has until August 18 to make the currently redacted statements public, or to appeal the decision. See also the ACLU amicus brief (PDF).

Thrown to the Wolves (February 25, 2005)
"Mr. Arar is the most visible victim of the reprehensible U.S. policy known as extraordinary rendition, in which individuals are abducted by American authorities and transferred, without any legal rights whatever, to a regime skilled in the art of torture."

The Secret Genocide Archive (February 23, 2005)
"It's hard to know the total mortality over two years of genocide, partly because the Sudanese government is blocking a U.N. team from going to Darfur and making such an estimate. But independent estimates exceed 220,000 - and the number is rising by about 10,000 per month."

Statement of Senator Richard J. Durbin on [against] the nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales to serve as Attorney General of the United States.
"Some of my colleagues have suggested that the opposition to Alberto Gonzales's nomination is all about partisan politics. That could not be further from the truth. This is about our ability to win the war on terrorism while respecting the values that our Nation represents.

I cannot in good conscience vote to reward a man who ignored the rule of law and the demands of human decency and created the permissive environment that made Abu Ghraib possible.

When the history of these times are recorded, I believe that Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo will join the names of infamous Japanese-American internment camps such as Manzanar, Heart Mountain, and Tule Lake where Fred Korematsu and over thousands of others were detained. I cannot in good conscience vote to make the author of such a terrible mistake the chief law enforcement officer of our great Nation and the guardian of our God-given and most cherished rights.

So, Mr. President, I will vote no on the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to serve as Attorney General of the United States. I yield the floor."

The Universal Right to Free Expression
Courageous men and women, in difficult and dangerous circumstances throughout human history, have demonstrated that freedom lives in the human heart and cries out for justice even in the face of threats, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, exile, and death. We draw inspiration from their example. They challenge us to remain steadfast in our most basic professional responsibility to promote and defend the right of free expression.

Moral values apply to torture, too (December 16, 2004)
"We re-elected a president who abandoned the Geneva Conventions; who constructed a gulag at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and who continues to defy the Supreme Court by keeping hundreds detained there without charge. The International Committee of the Red Cross says the intentional use of physical and psychological coercion at Guantánamo is "tantamount to torture."

The Truth about Torture (December 6, 2004)
"But is this a topic that anyone wants to examine ever? Last April, the photographs from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq shocked the world and put the treatment of prisoners in the headlines for several weeks. Then, Congressional hearings faded, military investigations were begun in all directions, a few individuals were tried without great publicityand attention shifted to the presidential campaign, where no one was going to touch the issue."

This Is What War Looks Like (December 6, 2004)
"The abuse at Abu Ghraib prison is what happens when we abandon compassion and allow our animal nature to take over. Interview of Thich Nhat Hanh by Lisa Schneider."

Regarding the Torture of Others by Susan Sontag

My Lai hero laments lesson was not learned and An Introduction to the My Lai Courts-Martial

Torture as Foreign Policy by Nat Hentoff

20th anniversary of the UN Convention against Torture  a reminder to every government (10 Dec 2004)

Statement from the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) on the UN Human Rights Day, 10 December 2004

"Freedom and democracy can never be achieved through torture. Terrorism cannot be eliminated through acts of torture. It must be a priority for the international community, including for the United States as the only remaining superpower, to stop torture in order to create a free and more democratic world."

Taking Complaints of Torture Seriously (PDF). Rights of Victims and Responsibilities of Authorities. (September 2004)

The Torture Survivors Network is a forum for the survivors' voices, for sharing information between treatment centers and professionals, for those interested in starting a program in their own community, and for the general public.

The Torture Reporting Handbook by Camille Giffard

How to document and respond to allegations of torture within the international system for the protection of human rights.


The UN Committee Against Torture site provides information on how to address individual complaints (e.g., Where can I get help? Complaints Procedures, Fact sheet No.7 (Rev.1) - Complaint Procedures, Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture, Fact Sheet No.4 (Rev.1) - Methods of Combating Torture, Jurisprudence, Statistical survey of complaints received).

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984 entry into force 26 June 1987, in accordance with article 27 (1).

The Optional Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted on 18 December 2002 at the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly of the United Nations by resolution A/RES/57/199. Protocol is available for signature, ratification and accession as from 4 February 2003 (i.e. the date upon which the original of the Protocol was established) at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

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