Below please find the link and text for a letter to the editor
regarding torture and accountability, which appeared in today's New York
Times. This letter was written by Dr. Allen Keller and Parul Monga, who
are respectively Program Director and Policy Coordinator at the
Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture and the NYU School of
Medicine Center for Health and Human Rights.
Please share this letter with your other colleagues and friends.
Kinsey Wright, Director of Program Planning
After Torture Cases, a Need for Accountability
To the Editor:
“This year’s World Humanitarian Day presents a historic opportunity to bring together one billion people from around the world to advance a powerful and proactive idea: People Helping People. That is the best way to honor the many fallen aid workers we mourn today, and to celebrate the efforts of others who carry on their noble mission by rushing assistance to those who are suffering." - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
This Saturday, August 19th is World Humanitarian Day, which commemorates the courageous efforts of humanitarian aid workers around the world, and honors the individuals who have lost their lives.
“Last year I was very vulnerable,
I couldn’t talk about my country or my past. I was totally afraid of new places
and new people. Now thanks to the
Program for Survivors of Torture, I’m getting help and I’m feeling better.” – Client,
Publication on April 30, 2012 in the Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy by Raghavan, Sumithra; Rasmussen, Andrew; Rosenfeld, Barry; Keller, Allen S.
While a growing body of literature addresses the psychological
consequences of torture and war trauma, there are few empirical
examinations of treatment for survivors of torture. This study offers a
program evaluation of a comprehensive torture treatment program in New
York City. We present literature surrounding the interdisciplinary
“wraparound” approach to treating survivors of torture, and examine the
relationship between clinical services and symptom reduction in a
multinational sample of refugees (N = 172) receiving treatment over a
As a part of the program's commitment to advocacy, a group of health professionals, medical students, and program staff went to Albany on Wednesday, May 2to
meet with lawmakers and advocate for passage of historic legislation
Senate Bill S-6795 and Assembly Bill A-5891 prohibiting the participation of health
professionals licensed in the state in the torture and improper
treatment of prisoners. Furthermore, this bi-partisan legislation
provides health professionals with strong legal protection to resist and
report any participation in acts of torture and abuse.
Advocates met with almost 30 Legislative offices as well as the bills' sponsors Senator Thomas Duane and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried.
The Advocacy Day was covered in the Legislative Gazette. Dr. Allen Keller was quoted: "Preventing medical participation in torture is
crucial to our profession's moral integrity. It is appropriate that future health professionals are not
only reminding us of this but leading the way."
Publication on April 1, 2012 in the Psychiatric Services by Dr. Homer Venters and Dr. Allen Keller.
Over 350,000 immigrants are detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) each year. An unknown fraction of these detainees have serious mental illnesses and are taken into ICE custody even though a criminal court has ordered them to enter inpatient mental health care. The authors report findings from 16 such cases in which they have provided advocacy over the past four years. In some cases, they were able to secure release of detainees into inpatient care in community (nonforensic) settings, which involved substantial logistical challenges. Given the well-documented concerns about securing adequate care for ICE detainees with mental illness, a logical policy change would be for ICE to allow these patients to enter court-ordered inpatient care. This move would improve care for patients and would also unburden ICE from the untenable proposition of caring for patients that the criminal justice system has deemed unfit for incarceration.
Dr. Porterfield will discuss the effects of war trauma and violence on refugee children and their families and how service providers can assess and intervene with these families.
This webinar will use a case presentation of a traumatized refugee family from Kosovo to illustrate basic principles of assessment and intervention for those who work directly with refugee families.
Key points to be addressed include:
Understanding the refugee family's response to trauma requires careful, thorough assessment of a number of variables.
Intervening with the traumatized refugee family requires community based and culturally competent service provision.
Intervening with the traumatized refugee family requires a strength and resilience-based focus.
The indefinite hunger strike for Tibet outside of the United Nations is entering its fourth week. The three Tibetan hunger strikers, H.E. 11th Shingza Rinproche, Mr. Dorjee Gyalpo, and Mr. Yeshi Tenzing have been regularly evaluated and monitored by Bellevue Hospital physicians including Drs. Allen Keller and Asher Aladjem from PSOT.
Last night, March 19, 2012, Mr. Dorjee Gyalpo was taken for hospital treatment by the NYPD. According to Dr. Keller, this four week mark becomes especially medically risky for the hunger strikers. All three strikers voiced their desire to continue.
The photos above show H.E. 11th Shingza Rinproche and Mr. Yeshi Tenzing as well as the event organizer Mr. Tsewang from the Tibetan Youth Congress and Dr. Allen Keller being interviewed by CNN.
On February 29, 2012, PSOT's Dr. Allen Keller and Lhamo Dongtotsang accompanied by two NYU School of Medicine students, David Carruthers and Shawn Cohen, visited and evaluated three Tibetans on hunger strike in front of the United Nations on 43rd Street and 1st Ave.
The three individuals--H.E. 11th Shingza Rinproche, Mr. Dorjee Gyalpo, and Mr. Yeshi Tenzing, have been on an indefinite hunger strike since February 22 as part of the Tibetan Youth Congress protests appealing to the United Nations. Since February 2009, 23 Tibetans inside Tibet have self-immolated and others have gone on hunger strikes, leading to more than a dozen deaths.
As PSOT is very close with the Tibetan community in New York, our staff and clinicians will continue to monitor the situation at the UN.
On February 14, 2012, Dr. Allen Keller and Yang-Yang Zhou of PSOT, joined by Lisa Matos of HealthRight International and Leah Weinzimer of the Libertas Program,visited the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. for the annual National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP) Advocacy Day.
They met with legislative staff from New York and New Jersey Senators and Representatives in order to discuss the Torture Victims Relief Authorization Act (HR. 2404) which provides funding for torture treatment centers through the Office of Refugee Resettlement as well as the Restoring Protection to Victims of Persecution Act (HR. 2981) which seeks to the end the one-year filing deadline for asylum-seekers.