Thursday, March 7, 2013
UN Calls on Obama Administration to Take Action Against 'Torture' at JRC

The United Nations is requesting action from the federal government to support the stand against the use of electric shock treatment at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, according to a news report this week.

In a report presented to the UN Human Rights Council this week, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez called on the government to bring an end to the use of such treatments and restraint at the JRC, according to a statement on Disability Rights International Tuesday.

"The Special Rapporteur determines that the rights of the students of the JRC subjected to Level III Aversive Interventions by means of electric shock and physical means of restraints have been violated under the UN Convention Against Torture and other international standards," said Méndez in a statement.

Méndez agreed publicly that the action was torture in 2010 after he DRI's report and urgent appeal Torture not Treatment, and sent his own urgent appeal to the government asking them to investigate allegations of torture at JRC, according to Tuesday's announcement.

The U.S. Department of Justice has had an open investigation into JRC since then, and reported to Méndez in January this year that it is still ongoing.

"Although the Special Rapporteur appreciates the Government's response, he expresses serious concern about the physical and mental integrity of the students residing at JRC, in view of the continued use of electric shock therapy and physical means of restraint as part of the JRC educational programme," said Méndez in a statement.

In his letter to the government, Méndez stressed the need for a federal ban on the practices, noting that "there is nothing to stop JRC from simply relocating again to another state. Protections are needed at the federal level to ensure that Level III aversives are brought to an end in the United States of America."

Last month, Sen. Brian Joyce (D-Milton) supported a move by Gov. Deval Patrick in filing a motion to vacate a court order that's been in place for more than 25 years allowing the JRC to use what have been deemed as aversive therapies like electric shock treatment on disabled children.