Things to Consider as Confirmation Hearings Begin | The Center for Victims of Torture

Things to Consider as Confirmation Hearings Begin

Monday, January 9, 2017

As confirmation hearings for presidential appointees begin tomorrow, January 10, CVT will be monitoring statements and positions taken by nominees on issues of importance to our clients and our work to end torture.

Since the election, CVT has been involved in discussions and actions to ensure our top policy priorities continue to move forward as the new administration takes office. The following are among the issues we are watching closely, along with key information about the reality of these issues as experienced by our clients, who are survivors of torture from around the world.

Torture is a crime: there is no policy option allowing a return to use of torture by the United States.

Torture is a crime under both international and domestic law. There are no exceptions or justifications for the use of torture. It’s not allowed in a time of war, national emergency, or in the name of national security. Torture is explicitly banned, without exception, by the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 3 Common to the Four Geneva Conventions to which the U.S. is a party.

Read the truths about torture here.

Waterboarding is a despicable form of torture. It is illegal and cannot be used by the U.S. under any circumstances.

Waterboarding is a form of slow, controlled drowning. When tortured through waterboarding, a victim is strapped down and immobilized as water is poured over his face and into his throat, asphyxiating him and leading him to believe he will die.

Read details about the torture form known as waterboarding here.

The rights and safety of refugees and asylum seekers in the U.S. must be protected.

At CVT’s Healing Center in St. Paul, our clients have experienced profound fear in response to political rhetoric calling for bans on Muslim refugees, to calls for onerous resettlement restrictions, and to repeated disrespect, intimidation and harassment of members of immigrant populations. Threats to individuals’ rights always create anxiety, but for survivors of torture, the ramifications are particularly intense. CVT’s  research shows that as many as 44% of refugees living in the United States have survived torture. We must stand with refugees and ensure their rights are protected.

Read this opinion piece about the impact of political rhetoric on torture survivors by Curt Goering, CVT executive director, in the Star Tribune.

Refugee resettlement must continue without new restrictions.

Refugees are the most closely scrutinized people who travel to the U.S. Under the U.S. Refugee Act of 1980 and as a state party to the Refugee Protocol, the U.S. must continue to do our part to help address the global refugee crisis – with compassion, with the effective and rigorous security screenings in place, and with greater focus on providing access to mental health care for individuals who have survived atrocities.

Here is a summary of the rigorous refugee vetting process.

Confirmation hearings of note: (Note: all times are EST)

Jan. 10

9:30 a.m.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

Attorney General


3:30 p.m.

General John F. Kelly

Secretary of Homeland Security

Jan. 11

9 a.m.

Rex Tillerson

Secretary of State

Jan. 12

9:30 a.m.

General James Mattis

Secretary of Defense


10 a.m.

Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS)

CIA Director








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