Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Santa Monica Friends Oppose Torture in our Prisons and Abroad

I am pleased that Santa Monica Friends Meeting unanimously approved the following minute opposing torture. Our Peace Committee also approved a banner calling for an end to torture in our prison system as well as abroad. Many Americans don't realize--but Laura Magnani of the American Friends Service Committee makes it clear in her well-reseached writings--that our prison system practices "cruel and unusual punishment" compared to most other nations. Even the California Supreme Court recognized that the California prisons are in violation of the Constitution because of the overcrowding and other inhumane conditions. I wish that the majority of Americans, particularly in the religious community, felt as Friends do about torture and our prison system. I am grateful to the National Religious Campaign Against Torture for lifting up this issue. Let's make ending torture a priority in 2011!

Santa Monica Friends stand firmly opposed to torture and support the work of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture ( as well as of Quakers Initiative to End Torture ( We call on our elected officials, and especially the President of the United States, to bring to justice those who have authorized torture in violation of US and international law. We also want the United States government to stop preventing the victims of US-sponsored torture from seeking redress and just compensation in US courts. Finally, we support the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), which can help prevent torture and abuse by requiring a ratifying country to establish National Preventative Mechanisms (NPMs) to monitor the treatment of prisoners. In addition to the NPMs, OPCAT allows for international oversight of places of confinement to ensure that torture and other abuses are not occurring.

As Quakers, we feel that torture is a moral and religious issue. We believe that there is "that of God" in every human being and therefore everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Torture does incalculable and long-lasting damage to both the torturer and the torture victim. Torture erodes our nation's moral fibre, diminishes our moral standing in the world, incites retaliation, and puts at risk the lives of Americans abroad and at home.

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