AAAS asks scientists to oppose torture

June 29, 2004 at 11:56 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 29 (UPI) -- A panel of U.S. scientists has called on the scientific community, including health professionals, to condemn torture.

The group, which met Monday, was sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and included discussion on the role of scientists in identifying and eliminating the practice of torture.

Meredith Larson of Amnesty International USA called for scientists as an authoritative body to condemn torture, especially any type of collaboration by health professionals, who she said should be caring for torture survivors and documenting cases.

The panel sharply criticized a 2002 Justice Department memo justifying the use of torture in interrogations in the U.S. war on terror.

"That any lawyer (in the United States) would make such an argument is, in my judgment, both shocking and obscene," Robert Goldman, co-director of the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University, told the conference.

Sociologist Martha Huggins of Tulane University presented a 10-point model that outlines conditions that, if present, could predict whether a state will engage in torture. Points included public avoidance of the word "torture," advancement of national security ideology and executive-level decisions legitimizing torture.

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