CVT Celebrates 25th Anniversary of U.S. Signing UN Convention Against Torture

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

St. Paul, MN – A triumph for human rights and dignity, the United States, during President Reagan’s final year in office, signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on April 18, 1988. To coincide with this 25th anniversary, the Center for Victims of Torture™ (CVT) is today releasing a policy report, U.S. Bi-Partisan Leadership Against Torture, highlighting the Convention Against Torture’s rich bipartisan history and calling for the United States to regain its global leadership against torture and cruel treatment. 

“April 18 is a special day for CVT and for the worldwide torture survivor rehabilitation movement,” said Curt Goering, executive director of CVT. “Upon becoming a signatory to the Convention Against Torture, the United States affirmed our enduring belief in the basic right not to be tortured and defined our legal and moral obligations to provide torture survivors ‘as full a rehabilitation as possible.’ We invite others in the human rights community to join us in celebrating this 25th anniversary.”

The Convention Against Torture is also a bipartisan achievement. U.S. support for the Convention began with President Reagan and continued with President George H.W. Bush and President Clinton. 

In his message transmitting the Convention Against Torture to the U.S. Senate, President Reagan wrote: “Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.”[1] 

“The bipartisan leadership and spirit brought to the Convention Against Torture—as well as to the passage of domestic laws criminalizing torture and in support of programs providing rehabilitation to torture survivors in the U.S. and around the world—was a clear indication of the strength of the consensus about the prohibition against torture, ” said Goering.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government’s unlawful, ineffective and misguided torture policies after September 11, 2001, ate away at that bipartisan consensus. 

“The government’s past descent into torture and cruel treatment has left us with a terrible legacy that continues to trouble us today,” said Goering. “Torture and cruel treatment as official U.S. policy has serious consequences for America’s national security, the rule of law and our global leadership in human rights.  We need to undo the damage.  The first step is to get the truth.” 

CVT’s U.S. Bi-Partisan Leadership Against Torture report includes several recommendations for the United States to reestablish itself as a global leader against torture and cruel treatment.  Among its recommendations, CVT renews its call for the Senate Intelligence Committee to make public its report on the past CIA detention and interrogation program with as few redactions as possible.

“The American people are entitled to a complete reporting of the facts, detailing how and why the CIA’s policies of torture and cruel treatment came to be used. Only when all the facts are known can we understand what went wrong and prevent such abuses from happening again in the future,” said Goering. 

NOTE:  CVT also has available a handout briefly describing the known scientific, medical and clinical effects of the specific methods of abuse, including waterboarding, authorized after September 11, 2001.  


CVT is a nonprofit based in Minnesota with an office in Washington D.C. and projects in Africa and the Middle East. Visit



[1]Message to the Senate Transmitting the Convention Against Torture and Inhuman Treatment or Punishment. The American Presidency Project. May 20, 1988. Available at




Brad Robideau
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