April 25, 2014 – Washington, DC - Following testimony yesterday by Disability Rights International (DRI) and several other advocacy organizations, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel on neurological devices has recommended a federal ban on electrical shock devices used to punish and control the behavior of children with disabilities– a practice condemned by the United Nations to be torture under international law.
Eric Mathews testifies before FDA Panel
DRI advocate Eric Mathews testifies before the FDA advisory panel regarding torture at the Judge Rotenberg Center (photo: Kim Musheno)
DRI brought worldwide attention to these abuses in 2010 by filing an urgent appeal, Torture not Treatment, with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. The United Nations has since conducted two investigations into the abuses at the Massachusetts-based Judge Rotenberg Center, the only facility in the United States known to use electric shock to punish children with disabilities. The UN’s top expert on torture, Juan Mendez, has agreed that the shock treatments violate the UN Convention against Torture. The UN has called on the United States to put an immediate end to this practice, stating that the prohibition of torture is absolute. The FDA has now echoed these concerns, stating that “Serious concerns have been raised about the use of aversive conditioning electrical stimulation devices on children and adults with developmental disabilities.” Disability Rights International urges the FDA to accept the advisory panel’s recommendation and put an end to torture of children with disabilities in the United States. Read DRI’s testimony before the FDA advisory panel Read DRI’s 2010 report Torture not Treatment Watch Fox 25 Boston News Coverage of the abuses at JRC