Torture

The Carr Center scrutinizes the use of torture by state and non-state actors around the world. Our analysis includes, but is not limited to, the costs and consequences of the U.S. Government’s use of torture.

Douglas A. Johnson

Douglas A. Johnson

Faculty Director, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
Lecturer, Public Policy

Douglas A. Johnson became the first Executive Director of the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) in 1988 after a series of acting directors; he was tasked by the Board to build the organization to the stature merited by Governor Perpich’s founding vision for the first treatment center in the United States for torture survivors. Johnson stepped down January 31, 2012, after nearly 24 years heading the organization, During his tenure, CVT provided healing services to over 23,000 torture survivor in one of its clinical sites in Minnesota, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Jordan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or Kenya. The organization grew from 3 staff at his arrival to about 250 at his departure. 

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Alberto Mora. 2/27/Published. “American Cruelty and the Defense of the Constitution.” United States Naval Academy Stutt Lecture. Abstract

The Stutt Lecture at the United States Naval Academy.

"I propose to explore with you this evening what it means to “support and defend the Constitution.” I will use as a prism the 2002 decision of the Bush administration to use torture as a weapon of war and my own involvement in the matter as Navy General Counsel."

These GOP foreign policy pros are wary of working for Trump

These GOP foreign policy pros are wary of working for Trump

November 17, 2016

Members of the conservative foreign policy intelligentsia, who spent the eight long years of the Obama administration biding their time at think tanks and universities, finally have a shot at upper level administration jobs

But now that those coveted Washington positions as deputy secretaries, assistant secretaries, and the like are finally open, many are racked with new anxiety: Is it a good idea to serve in a Trump administration if you disagree deeply with Donald Trump?...

Carr Center’s Strategic Consequences of the U.S. Use of Torture – Conference Report

Carr Center’s Strategic Consequences of the U.S. Use of Torture – Conference Report

October 20, 2016

On October 7th & 8th, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, in coordination with the West Point Center for the Rule of Law, hosted the Strategic Consequences of the U.S. Use of Torture. Executive Director Sushma Raman, and Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf gave opening remarks. Faculty Director Douglas A. Johnson welcomed the speakers, and Lieutenant Colonel Winston Williams was the first panelist to speak. 

Watch the introductory panel:

Appellate Court Reinstates Abu Ghraib Torture Lawsuit Against Private Military Contractor

Appellate Court Reinstates Abu Ghraib Torture Lawsuit Against Private Military Contractor

October 24, 2016

 

On October 21, 2016, a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit  (Al Shimari v. CACI) brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of four Abu Ghraib torture victims against CACI Premier Technology, Inc., a private military contractor, for the corporation’s role in their inhumane treatment.  Reacting to this decision, Carr Center Senior Fellow Alberto Mora stated:

Carr Center for Human Rights Policy Senior Fellow on Private Military Contractor Ruling

Carr Center for Human Rights Policy Senior Fellow on Private Military Contractor Ruling

October 24, 2016

 

October 22th, 2016

CAMBRIDGE, MA — On October 21, 2016, a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit  (Al Shimari v. CACI) brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of four Abu Ghraib torture victims against CACI Premier Technology, Inc., a private military contractor alleged to be responsible for the inhumane treatment.

Carr Center's Research Team featured in Foreign Affairs

Carr Center's Research Team featured in Foreign Affairs

September 21, 2016

The Carr Center's "Strategic Consequences of Torture" project was recently featured in Foreign Affairs Magazine. In the article, Carr Center's research team, Douglas A. Johnson, Alberto Mora, and Averell Schmidt argue that "a truly comprehensive assessment (of torture) would also explore the policy’s broader implications, including how it shaped the trajectory of the so-called war on terror, altered the relationship between the United States and its allies, and affected Washington’s pursuit of other key goals, such as the promotion of democracy and human rights abroad."

This report examines the evolution of the Taliban case for armed struggle and the minimal adjustments Taliban rhetoricians made to cope with the impending political change in Afghanistan in 2014. It considers how the Taliban might make a case for peace, should they take the political decision to engage in negotiations. 

The Taliban movement commands the loyalty of thousands of Afghans and applies resources and men to the pursuit of political objectives, guided by doctrine and inspired by rhetoric. Taliban rhetoric consists of religious and historical references, narratives of recent events, and guidance for Taliban sympathizers. The rhetoric asserts that the Taliban are engaged in a righteous jihad aimed at establishing a divinely ordered Islamic system in Afghanistan. Taliban doctrine focuses on internal affairs and in particular on maintaining cohesiveness. The Taliban are ruthless in enforcing their doctrine of obedience to the amir, or leader. The movement has retained a narrow social base, and its power is concentrated in the hands of mullahs from the Kandahari Pashtun tribes. Any project to build a plural Afghanistan is likely to include an appeal to the Taliban or the constituency they have mobilized. The Taliban’s own attempts to regain power rest on a negation of pluralism, rejection of a popular mandate, and assertion of the divine right vested in their Islamic emirate. A Taliban rhetoric of peace would require addressing the position of the Taliban’s amir, peace as a desirable state, the need for cohesiveness and unity in support of peace, celebration of the withdrawal of foreign troops, Islamic credentials of the government in Kabul, protection of those who sacrificed for the Taliban, peace as conclusion of the jihad, and the new role for the Taliban’s cadres. After 2014, the Taliban leadership is vulnerable to a hard-line challenge arguing that the political system in Kabul is irredeemably compromised by its collaboration with unbelievers.

As the civilian population is increasingly targeted in wars, children constitute an increasing quota among the victims of each conflict. More often than not, the horrific practice of targeting civilians during conflict is seconded by the deplorable active use of child soldiers. In some countries, a whole generation of children seems to have grown up without knowing peace. A lot has been written about war-affected people, and the psychological consequences that they bear as a result of these traumatic experiences; yet, a literature that focuses specifically on the psychological burden of child soldiers is only now slowly emerging. While it might be intuitive that war and widespread violence leave deep psychological scars, it is essential to understand what shape these scars take on children. The relevance of the topic is striking at both a humanitarian and a developmental level as ‘lost education can take years to regain, and physical and psychological trauma may be long lasting’. 

Ezgi Yildiz

Ezgi Yildiz

Fellow

Ezgi Yildiz is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carr Center, where she is affiliated with the Costs and Consequences of Torture Project. She holds a PhD in International Relations with a Minor in International Law (summa cum laude with distinction) from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. She conducts interdisciplinary research on international relations and international law, and specializes in international courts and human rights with a focus on the European Court of Human Rights, and the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. Her research has been funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation’s Doc CH and Early Postdoc Mobility grants.

Averell Schmidt

Averell Schmidt

Fellow

Averell Schmidt is a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. His research focuses on the costs and consequences of the U.S. decision to use torture as an instrument of foreign policy following the attacks of 9/11.

Before joining the Carr Center, Avery received a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. As a graduate student Avery concentrated in international and global affairs, conducted fieldwork on security sector reform in Indonesia and political development in Egypt, and was editor-in-chief of the Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy.

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Alberto  Mora

Alberto Mora

Senior Fellow

Alberto J. Mora is a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, where he teaches and conducts research on issues related to human rights, foreign policy, and national security strategy.

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