I am writing in response to the notification I received from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture that January 22nd is the 2nd anniversary of President Obama’s executive order. The use of torture deeply hurt our national security, violated U.S law and was contrary to the values of my faith. In addition to my personal beliefs on the matter, I see the outcome of torture on a daily basis in my work. I am the Director of a non-profit ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women, where women re-start their lives many of whom in their home nations have been tortured for their political and religious beliefs. These women are gaining an opportunity at Sarah’s to grow and become empowered to do good things in their lives despite the horrendous trauma they have been through. Not all torture survivors have that chance. And I am horrified to know that my own nation’s people supported and even participated in torturing people.
This is my plea for others to get involved and these are the action steps that need to be taken:
1. An executive order is not permanent, so although President Obama’s executive order halted torture, it will require legislation to permanently end it. Congress should pass legislation requiring that the International Committee of the Red Cross be allowed access to all detainees. This will help to ensure that detainees are not secretly abused.
2. President Obama should establish a Commission of Inquiry, as proposed by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, to investigate our past use of torture and to recommend steps for ensuring that torture is never used again.
Readers, please tell Congress that you support President Obama’s executive order and ask them to pass the aforementioned legislation. Please tell the President that you support establishment of a Commission of Inquiry. Thank you for your time reading this.
Cheryl L. Steeves
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