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

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.

Trump Administration Must Preserve Copies of Senate Torture Report (June 2, 2017)

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) objects to the Trump Administration’s move to return to Congress copies of the Senate’s 2014 report on the CIA’s torture program.

PHR Unveils Anti-Torture Pledge for Health Professionals (May 18, 2017)

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today launched a pledge for health professionals across the United States to stand together in their rejection of torture, voicing the consensus that torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment are absolutely prohibited in all circumstances.

PHR Condemns Closure of Egyptian Anti-Torture Organization (February 10, 2017)

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today condemned the shuttering of Egypt’s premiere anti-torture organization and clinic, the El-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence. On Thursday, Egyptian officials sealed the organization’s office doors after a protracted effort to halt its work.

More Torture News »

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.

Trump’s Torture Stance Is Anti-American (February 13, 2017)

President Donald J. Trump continues to insist torture “absolutely works,” a jagged departure from fact, law, and morality. Within days of his inauguration, the White House was already circulating a draft executive order to reopen CIA “black sites” and review currently approved interrogation practices, presumably with a view to fulfilling Trump’s campaign promises to bring back waterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse.”

CIA Documents Show How Deeply Doctors and Health Professionals Were Involved in Torture (July 25, 2016)

Last month, the CIA released more than 50 declassified documents about the illegal torture program it operated after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Many of them elaborate on the sheer brutality of the CIA’s practices.

Guantánamo: A Badge of Shame (January 7, 2016)

Fourteen years ago, the U.S. government opened Guantánamo Bay detention facility in an effort to create a place beyond the reach of the law and the Constitution -- a place where the absolute prohibition against torture and ill-treatment could be violated with impunity. Today, the consequences of that pernicious move are being felt in every corner of the United States.

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 »