Monday, May 4, 2009

Pass the Torture Victims Relief Act

The Torture Victims Relief Act (TVRA), HR-1511, first passed in 1998, authorizes funding to support torture treatment programs in the U.S. and abroad. With the continued practice of torture in over 100 countries, and the recent surge in political will to denounce torture, it is a crucial time for the U.S. to reaffirm its commitment to treatment for torture victims, both at home and oveseas.

American centers have been reporting increasing numbers of asylum seekers in need of services, and the U.S. has recently committed to resettle an increased number of Iraqi refugees over the next few years (though still a pittance, compared to the millions displaced by the Iraq war and occupation). The recession has made things extremely difficult for these new refugees. It has also seriously impacted victim rehab centers in the U.S. and overseas, with cutbacks in staff and services, and, in some cases, closing their doors.

The bill has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs and House Energy and Commerce committees. Please call your Congressperson and ask them to reauthorize TVRA in 2009 and appropriate the funds at authorized levels. You will be doing something concrete to help those tortured abroad who, despite the torture scandal that envelops this country right now, have come to the U.S. seeking refuge and safety from oppression and torture in countries as diverse as Guatemala, Philippines, Bosnia, Russia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Burma (Mynamar), Yemen, and many, many more.

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