Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service issued the following press release today:
On Tuesday, November 25 the U.S. Senate adopted
the Torture Victims Relief Reauthorization Act of 2003 by unanimous consent.
The House of Representatives also adopted the bill.
"Repressive governments often use torture as a weapon against democracy,"
said Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) President Ralston H.
Deffenbaugh Jr. "A significant number of refugees and asylees entering the
United States have been victims of torture. This bill demonstrates a
commitment to bringing new hope and new life to victims of torture, and
sends the message that the United States will not condone the use of
The Act authorizes a total of $81 million over two years in assistance to
domestic and foreign torture treatment centers and in contributions to the
United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.
Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) introduced the bill in the Senate;
Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN) was the original cosponsor. The bill was
introduced in the House by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ).
The Detained Torture Survivor Legal Support Network, coordinated by Lutheran
Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), has reached over 700 survivors of
torture held in immigration detention at five locations since the program
began in January of 2002. Of the 200,000 immigrants detained annually by
the DHS, an estimated 12,000 may be survivors of torture. The Detained
Torture Survivor Legal Support Network makes a life-or-death difference by
establishing a refuge of professional care in a hostile environment. The
Network provides torture survivors with access to legal assistance, health
care, psychological and religious counseling as well as arranging for
torture survivors to receive extensive support services once they win their
asylum cases and are released from detention. The network aims to take away
the environmental threat and overcome the service limitations by removing
the survivor as soon as possible from the traumatic environment and into one
that can provide the vital services needed not merely to survive but to
build a stable and fruitful life.
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