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Human Rights Group Files "Torture" Charge with UN Against USA Facility

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A Massachusetts facility that uses painful electric jolts on people diagnosed with mental disabilities has been charged with "torture" by Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI), in a complaint filed with the United Nation Special Rapporteur on Torture. MDRI is a sponsor group of MindFreedom International. Read the MDRI news release here:

Human Rights Group Files "Torture" Charge with UN Against USA Facility

Kid torture: Rotenberg worker has remote controls on belt to administer pain [image from Mother Jones investigation].

1 May 2010 update: To watch NBC NY news tv coverage of this story, click here.

29 April 2010 - MDRI News Release - Washington, D.C.

MDRI Alleges Torture Against Children and Adults with Disabilities in the United States

Files Urgent Appeal to United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture in Geneva

Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) has found children and adults with disabilities tortured and abused at a “special needs” residential facility in Massachusetts and has filed an “urgent appeal” with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture to demand the United States government end the torture immediately.

In a report released today, Torture not Treatment: Electric Shock and Long-Term Restraint in the United States on Children and Adults with Disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC), MDRI  documents the use of electric shocks on the legs, arms, torsos and soles of feet of people with disabilities – for weeks, months and sometimes years. JRC uses punishments as treatment and US advocates have been trying for decades to close the school and end these practices. The school also uses 4-point restraint boards, tying children to the boards while simultaneously shocking them for hours; mock assaults; food deprivation; shock chairs; isolation and long-term restraint. Residents at JRC are diagnosed with a variety of behavioral, intellectual and psychiatric disabilities such as autism, bi-polar disorder and learning disabilities.

Laurie Ahern, President of MDRI, states, “The cruelty perpetrated against children and adults at JRC is psychological and physical abuse, couched in the name of ‘treatment.’ The severe pain and suffering leveled against residents there violates the United Nations Convention against Torture. And to the best of our knowledge, JRC is the only facility of any kind in the US – and perhaps the world –that uses electricity combined with long-term restraint and other punishments to intentionally cause pain to children with behavioral challenges and calls it treatment.”

MDRI calls on the Special Rapporteur, along with the Obama Administration and the Department of Justice, to end the abuses against people with disabilities at JRC. MDRI is an international human rights and advocacy organization dedicated to the rights protection and full participation in society of people with disabilities worldwide.

For more information, see MDRI's web site, click here:

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Peter Lehmann, editor, author, psychiatric survivor activist

Peter Lehmann of Berlin, Germany serves as one of the MindFreedom International representatives with the United Nations, and is a long-term supporter of MindFreedom campaigns and activities. Peter is a psychiatric survivor who has worked passionately for decades in Germany, Europe and internationally with a variety of groups for significant change in the mental health system. Peter is editor and publisher of a variety of books challenging human rights violations in the mental health system and promoting alternatives. His most recent book (co-edited with Peter Stastny, MD) is called "Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry." This book provides chapters from 61 leaders in changing the mental health system, and is available in the MindFreedom Mad Market.
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