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The Government of the USA is Torturing Children

The AAP have determined the US government is torturing children, and call on child health professionals to act to stop child torture at all levels.


This is the conclusion of physicians writing a position paper for the American Academy of Pediatricians. US Custom and Border Protection involved in the ongoing practice of family separation and deportation meet international standards of torture, illegal under treaties the USA has ratified.

Journal Pediatrics

The article in which they publish their findings is the medical journal Pediatrics, a peer-reviewed academic journal more usually given over to studies of cases and implications for care. It is not known for social advocacy. Its audience is almost exclusively physicians in the Pediatric specialty - doctors who treat children.

Woman-and-toddler migrants detained at the Ursula detention center in McAllen, Texas, the United States. Photo credit: Jackie Speier

In very plain language the authors present their problem statement:

"The separation of children from parents and their treatment at the US Southern border is cruel, unusual and constitutes torture requiring action by pediatricians."

And succinctly they support it, with references. From the Geneva Conventions to the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT) on to the Rome Statute, which the USA has signed but not ratified, they clearly state the harms being done and how it meets the standards of those treaties: A) Severe pain and suffering, B) purposefully, and C) with State consent.

(The US Constitution defines the law of the land as first itself, then legislated law, and then treaties ratified by Congress. Both Geneva Convention + Protocol III and the UN Convention against Torture are ratified, though the Trump administration did withdraw the USA from the UNCAT optional Protocol in 2018.)

Call to action

The article includes a call to pediatricians and other child health professionals to join with other advocates and advocacy groups on a series of specific activities, at local as well national and international levels, as well as adopting a Childs Rights-Based Approach.

The AAP, with other stakeholder organizations, should initiate/support a case against the US in the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (ICHR).

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