February 25, 2006
Judaism holds that every human being is created b’tzelem Elokim (in the divine image) and, as such, is entitled to dignity and respect. Our government’s duty to protect the lives of our citizens must be balanced with the obligation to protect the precious rights guaranteed each individual. The war on terrorism has challenged law enforcement personnel and advocates for civil liberties to evaluate those policies and actions necessary to keep America safe and those which unnecessarily infringe on the rights of individuals. Even in Israel, which has faced the threat of terrorism since its founding, the Supreme Court has ruled that torture is illegal and unacceptable. This protection is already enshrined in United States law. The U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment bans “cruel and unusual punishments.” Other U.S. legal codes that ban torture include the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UMCJ, arts. 77–134), the War Crimes Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C § 2441), the Federal Anti-Torture Statute (18 U.S.C. § 2340A) and Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000 (MEJA, Public Law 106–778).
- Opposes the use of torture and affirms the continued validity and legal definitions present in the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
- Opposes the practice of ‘extraordinary rendition’, which is commonly defined as an extrajudicial procedure that sends criminal suspects to other countries, specifically to those that are suspected of using torture during interrogation;
- Supports allowing all people in U.S. custody subject to the Geneva Conventions the right to be visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross;
- Supports efforts to examine past practices and ensure that interrogations by military and intelligence agencies comport with international conventions; and,
- Urges the community relations field to work independently and in coalitions to advance the above.