SRRT Resolutions
International Responsibilities Task Force
of the American Library Association's
Social Responsibilities Round Table

On Intellectual Freedom & the Use of Torture in War or Peace

The following resolution was approved by the elected representatives of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) on January 19, 2002. SRRT is a body within the American Library Association but does not and should not be taken to speak for the Association as a whole. In this resolution SRRT speaks only on its own behalf.
Submitted to ALA Council by Mark C. Rosenzweig, SRRT Action Council member & ALA Councilor at large
Seconded by Al Kagan, SRRT Councilor
No vote was taken in ALA Council due to lack of quorum, January 2002


Whereas ALA is among the preeminent defenders of intellectual freedom and government openness in the US.

Whereas intellectual freedom, our primary value as librarians, cannot be more seriously violated than by forcing speech through systematic violence by government against detained individuals.

Whereas the US government has announced its readiness to use torture in the interrogation of suspected terrorists or their suspected accomplices

Whereas the use or possible use of torture is the ultimate deterrent to the cultivation of a democratic atmosphere of free speech, free thought, free assembly, free belief to which we,as an Association and as a profession, are committed.

Whereas the secrecy which will undoubtedly attend the use of torture will also violate our commitment, entailed by our intellectual freedom principles to open government and the necessity of true and accurate information of our government's actions


Whereas the threat of torture of the use of torture and similar practices of coercing testimony, confessions, information is, universally condemned under international law [e.g the Geneva Convention, Articles 3 and 31 and by the Univeral Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Article 5 ] and (a)the Fourth Amendment's right to be free of unreasonable search or seizure (which encompasses the right not be abused by the police) (b)the Fifth Amendment's right against self-incrimination (which encompasses the right to remain silent during interrogations), (c)the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments' guarantees of due process (ensuring fundamental fairness in criminal justice system), and (d)the Eighth Amendment's right to be free of cruel or unusual punishment],

Be it resolved that the SRRT/ALA condemns the use or threat of torture by the US government as a barbarous violation of human rights, intellectual freedom, and the rule of law. TheALA , decries --along with condemnation of the practice of torture anywhere-- the suggestion by the US government that under a 'state of emergency' in this country torture is an acceptable tool in pursuit of its goals.


Page last modified July 11, 2002.