Resolution on the United States Government's Abusive Policies toward Foreign Prisoners (2006)

At its annual business meeting on January 7, 2006, members of the Association adopted the following resolution offered by Joyce Appleby (UCLA). The following day, the AHA Council voted to accept the resolution as AHA policy.

Resolution on the United States Government’s Abusive Policies Toward Foreign Prisoners

Whereas, as professional historians, we share the special responsibility of identifying and condemning actions that violate elementary standards of human decency that have evolved over centuries and represent the common heritage of all human kind;

Whereas, the fight against terrorist attacks has encouraged our government to override the nation’s long-standing adherence to the Geneva Conventions and tolerate abusive treatment of prisoners in its custody as well as open itself to charges of using rendition to send its prisoners to foreign countries where they may be tortured and maintaining secret detention centers outside our borders;

Whereas, this conduct jeopardizes the nation’s profound and historic commitment to human rights; and

Whereas, the American Historical Association is committed to government openness and to the belief that public disclosure of documents relating to allegations of torture will speed the government’s ability to track down and stop abuses;

Resolved, that the American Historical Association encourage a public debate about the legitimacy of the government’s policies towards foreign prisoners while making clear its censure of the use of torture and affirming a commitment to the joint Congressional Resolution opposing torture signed into law by President Reagan in 1984 as well as to the United Nations Declaration and Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading treatment.