Skip to Main Content
Printer Friendly Home > Issues > Torture > US Torture

US Torture

In early 2003, when reports of torture by US military personnel began to surface publicly, PHR committed to investigating allegations of US torture, advocating against its practice and mobilizing health professionals to advocate for an end to these abuses.

As evidence of US national security interrogation practices emerged, it became clear that psychologically abusive methods of interrogation were at the core of US intelligence gathering.

In response to US personnel's systematic infliction of psychological and physical torture against detainees, PHR seeks to restore the US commitment against torture, to ensure humane treatment of detainees, and to protect US health personnel from complicity in mistreatment and harm.

More about PHR's work in stopping torture and bringing about accountability:

>> Psychological and Physical Torture

>> PHR's Papers and Reports on US Torture

>> MA and NY Legislation to Sanction Health Professionals Who Torture

Joint Letter to U.S. Senators Urging Opposition to the Nomination of Gina Haspel as CIA Director (April 19, 2018)

PHR adds its voice to NGO call for opposition to the nomination of Gina Haspel as CIA Director. It remains undisputed that Ms. Haspel was deeply involved in the CIA’s now-defunct torture program. As such, a vote to confirm her is incompatible with a meaningful commitment to the prohibition on torture.

Joint Letter to U.S. Senators Expressing Grave Concerns Over Nomination of Gina Haspel for CIA Director (March 16, 2018)

PHR adds its voice to NGO call for the declassification and public release of all records on Haspel’s involvement in the CIA torture program.

PHR Expresses Concern over Nomination of Gina Haspel to Lead CIA (March 13, 2018)

President Trump nominated Gina Haspel today to serve as CIA director. Physicians for Human Rights Director of Programs Homer Venters issued the following statement in response.

PHR Statement on Post-Election Developments in Kenya (August 12, 2017)

As post-election demonstrations in Kenya continue, PHR condemns excessive use of violence against peaceful protesters as well as credible allegations that police have threatened sexual violence against Kenyans. We demand swift investigations and accountability into any wrongdoing, and call for respect for human rights on all sides.

More Torture News »

A torturer as CIA boss? Never (March 14, 2018)

President Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel to serve as CIA director sends a destructive message to the world at the worst possible time. Haspel supervised the use of torture, then took part in destroying evidence of that crime.

Documenting Violence Against the Rohingyas Firsthand: Evidence That Can’t Be Ignored (December 22, 2017)

Military leaders in Myanmar falsely claim they have mounted this brutal attack on civilians, many of them children, because they are “terrorists.” The forensic evidence in these cases tells a vastly different story — the truth.

The UN says the United States is still torturing detainees at Guantánamo. More reason than ever to close it. (December 15, 2017)

The U.N. special rapporteur on torture stated earlier this week that torture of a detainee at the Guantánamo Bay detention center is ongoing, despite a domestic ban on so-called "enhanced interrogation" torture techniques. The expert noted that the detainee, who endured years of CIA torture before being transferred to Guántanamo, continues to be subjected to abusive detention practices, including indefinite detention, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, and denial of medical care -- including to treat the effects of his past torture at the hands of the CIA.

The CIA's Program of Human Experimentation (July 24, 2017)

This June, PHR published a report showing that the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program constituted a regime of illegal human experimentation. Senior Anti-Torture Fellow Sarah Dougherty was the lead author of PHR’s latest report and explains how she came to these conclusions.

More Torture Posts »

Urgent Need for Independent International Inquiry on Yemen (August 2017)

PHR urges permanent representatives of member and observer states of the United Nations Human Rights Council to support the creation of an independent international investigation into violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in Yemen since the start of the current conflict.

Joint Letter to Mattis, Pompeo and McCabe. Re: US Cooperation with Abusive Allied Forces in Yemen (August 2017)

We, the undersigned human rights, civil liberties, and religious organizations, write to urge you to make public to the fullest extent possible without disclosing sources and methods, any reviews conducted by your agencies into allegations that US-allied forces of the United Arab Emirates and UAE-backed Yemeni forces have been responsible for serious abuses in Yemen.

Letter to U.S. Senate on Indefinite Detention (June 2016)

As Congress considers Guantánamo-related provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2017, the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, the Center for Victims of Torture, and Physicians for Human Rights sent a letter to the U.S. Senate calling for an end to indefinite detention without charge or trial.

Truth Matters: Accountability for CIA Psychological Torture (December 2015)

One year after the Senate torture report’s partial release, transparency and accountability – let alone redress to victims – remain stalled. The U.S. government must end the cover-up of torture and ill-treatment and honor its obligation to investigate and prosecute those responsible.

More Torture Research »

Our Work

Broken Laws, Broken Lives

PHR's report details for the first time medical evidence confirming first-hand accounts of men who endured torture by US personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay. These men were never charged with any crime. Read More »