Support the tirc amendments!
The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (“TIRC”) was created in 2009 to review claims of police torture in Illinois and to make findings about whether those claims are credible. The TIRC Act currently excludes many cases of torture based on location, timing, and the lack of an appropriate definition of “torture.”
The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and the Chicago Torture Justice Center have proposed amending the TIRC Act to address these shortcomings. In February 2021, our proposed changes were introduced as legislation in the Illinois General Assembly. If passed, Senate Bill 2119 would amend the TIRC Act in the following ways.
Amendment 1. Updating the Definition of Torture
The first proposed amendment explicitly defines torture by adopting the definition of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (“CAT”), which has been ratified by the United States Senate and is U. S. law. This definition is already incorporated into federal law because the United States signed the CAT and ratified it. For example, under the current definition, if a witness was tortured into accusing the wrong person and that person is convicted, that does not count as torture. Under the UN’s definition, it does.
Amendment 2. Expanding the Geographical Scope
The second proposed amendment expands the geographical scope of claims of torture. Currently, the TIRC Act only applies to torture that occurred within a county of more than three million inhabitants, i.e. Cook County. This amendment would remove that restriction and would therefore apply the TIRC Act to the entire state. Torture is wrong no matter where it happens.
Amendment 3. Removing the Time Restriction
The third proposed amendment removes the restriction that persons must have filed their claims of torture within 10 years from the establishment of the TIRC, which was in 2009. A claim of torture should not be time-barred, especially because most people with claims of torture are incarcerated and may not have heard about the TIRC or had the access to be able to file a claim.
Amendment 4. Adopting a Two-Year Timeline for Claims
The fourth proposed amendment explicitly mandates that TIRC make it its goal to complete credibility reviews within two years of receiving a claim of torture. It also requires TIRC to submit budget proposals reflecting the resources needed to complete all credibility reviews within two years of receiving a claim. That means that if the TIRC needs more funding to be able to decide on claims within two years, they are required to report this, and we can continue our fight to get TIRC the funding it needs.
To view the bill status and full text of SB 2119, please visit this link.