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Pro-life Rescuers Jean Marshall and Paulette HarlowLifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — In the targeted, aggressive, and rigged Washington, D.C., FACE Act trials against nine peaceful pro-lifers, Joe Biden’s Justice Department appears to be guilty of six instances of torture, both during pre-trial questioning and post-conviction incarceration. 

Six counts of torture or inhumane treatment 

The “D.C. Nine” pro-lifers are currently serving time either behind bars or under house arrest for a peaceful traditional rescue of the unborn at the late term abortion clinic in Washington, D.C., run by infamous abortionist Cesare Santangelo. 

The acts of torture committed against them, enumerated below, are expressly prohibited either by American law or by international standards such as those set forth by the 2015 Nelson Mandela Rules of the UN, to which the U.S. has been expressly called to conform in practice and legislation as recently as December 2023. 

LifeSiteNews has direct testimony from the persons who have suffered the maltreatment detailed here of these following six counts: 

  1. Prolonged solitary confinement for 22 days, beyond the 15-day limit set internationally by Nelson Mandela Rules, for sharing food with fellow prisoner; 
  2. Sleep deprivation by keeping lights on in the prisoner’s cell 24/7 during the 22-day period of solitary confinement;
  3. Degrading humiliation of middle-aged woman by parading her fully shackled into federal court as though she were a dangerous and violent criminal; 
  4. Deprivation of sufficient heat and clothing in severe winter cold, causing a 74-year-old woman with asthma and lung conditions from prior contraction of tuberculosis to contract pneumonia; further deprivation of proper medical care for three weeks, with risk to life, given age and pre-conditions; 
  5. Deprivation of urgent, medically prescribed hip surgery for a 74-year woman, resulting in extreme hip pain, numbness of the right leg, inability to bend the right knee, and limping; a previously scheduled operation had to be canceled and medical treatment has been denied for nine months despite doctor’s letter to the federal judge; the prisoner is afraid to take anti-inflammatory pain medication, because of reflux and inability to contact prison personnel in event of an emergency in her cell, where she is detained for 20 hours/day; 
  6. Intimidation of defendants through employment of Domestic Terrorism agent in pre-trial interrogations. 

Heather Idoni, 59, was placed in prolonged solitary confinement for 22 days and deprived of sleep with the lights of her cell kept on continually. The mother of 5 and adopted mother of 10 was forced to appear in full shackles in federal court in March 2024 for a pre-trial hearing, in a manner usually reserved for dangerous or violent criminals.  

Jean Marshall, 74, was deprived of sufficient clothing and heat during extreme freezing winter cold, resulting in the contracting of pneumonia, which went untreated for three weeks. She has been denied an urgently needed hip surgery, contrary to her physician’s instructions, resulting in excruciating pain and reduced mobility of her right leg. 

WATCH: BREAKING | Biden DOJ Accused of Brutal Treatment of Jailed Pro-Lifer — Prolonged Solitary, Shackles 

Additionally, the DOJ has directly infringed on the religious liberty of one of the pro-lifers, who has been placed on house arrest, insisting that she be prohibited from attending church at all, despite the defendant’s express request to be allowed to attend Mass in addition to doctor’s visits. Paulette Harlow, 75, a devout Catholic, has been forbidden to attend Mass at a Catholic Church while under house arrest, despite her direct request to the judge while in court.  

LifeSiteNews has also been told by one of the pro-lifers, who wished to remain anonymous, that during the DOJ pre-trial investigation, defendants were interrogated by government agents from Domestic Terrorism, in a show of intimidation, to gather information, although their offense consisted in nothing more than peaceful civil disobedience to the infamous pro-abortion FACE Act, which now lacks the legal foundation previously cited in Roe v. Wade after the Dobbs decision. 

The above instances can all qualify as acts of torture and/or inhumane treatment of prisoners.  

Torture prohibited by US law, binding treaties, and the UN Nelson Mandela Rules 

Torture and mistreatment of prisoners is expressly prohibited under American domestic law, under binding treaties adopted by the U.S., and under non-binding international standards to which the U.S. has repeatedly been called by the UN to fully conform. 

The 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” 

In a 2004 ruling the Supreme Court stated that the international prohibitions against torture are numbered among those universally recognized norms that contain the greatest “definite content and acceptance among civilized nations,” and that “the torturer has become–like the pirate and slave trader before him–hostis humani generis, an enemy of all mankind.” 

The U.S. government is also bound by several international treaties to which it is a party, which prohibit torture. The 1949 Geneva Conventions was signed by the U.S. in 1949 and ratified 1955; the American Convention on Human Rights was signed in 1977; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was signed in 1977and ratified 1992; and the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was signed in 1988 and ratified in 1994. 

The Convention Against Torture defines in Article 1: “Torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.” 

Acts of torture are expressly and universally prohibited in Article 2, which states: “Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.” 

Prolonged solitary confinement, deprivation of sleep, constitutes torture 

In the current legal landscape within the U.S., restrictions on torture in the form of prolonged solitary confinement have been enacted only at the state level. In a report titled, “BANNING TORTURE: Legislative Trends and Policy Solutions for Restricting and Ending Solitary Confinement throughout the United States,” the national advocacy campaign Unlock the Box tracked state level restrictions imposed on prolonged solitary confinement in accordance with the UN’s Nelson Mandella Rules. The report states: 

Directly in line with the prohibition on prolonged solitary confinement, states have banned or introduced legislation to ban solitary in adult prisons and jails beyond 15 consecutive days or comparable periods. Legislation enacted in New York and Connecticut prohibit solitary beyond 15 consecutive days, in accord with the Mandela Rules, and New Jersey’s enacted law forbids solitary beyond 20 consecutive days. 

Legislation introduced in 2021–2022 in California, Washington, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Florida, and the U.S. Congress would all prohibit solitary beyond 15 consecutive days, in accord with the Mandela Rules. 

The 15-day rule stems from standards set by the UN going back more than a decade. In 2011, the UN Special Rapporteur commissioned with investigating mistreatment of prisoners expressly stated that prolonged solitary confinement, solitary confinement in excess of 15 days, stood in violation of UN mandates against torture contained in the Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. ratified in 1994. 

The commissioner wrote, “The Special Rapporteur concurs with the position taken by the Committee against Torture in its General Comment No. 20 that prolonged solitary confinement amounts to acts prohibited by article 7 of the Covenant, and consequently to an act as defined in article 1 or article 16 of the Convention. For these reasons, …any imposition of solitary confinement beyond 15 days constitutes torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, depending on the circumstances.” 

Just four years later, in December 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted rules for the humane treatment of prisoners, which now serve as an increasingly accepted international standard, titled United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules). These Rules, which the UN has pressed the U.S. to adopt, contain stipulations that expressly define and prohibit various acts of torture, including prolonged solitary confinement, placement in a constantly lit cell, and withholding of proper medical care.  

Prolonged solitary confinement “in excess of 15 consecutive days” is specifically prohibited as punitive action amounting to “torture” and “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” 

Nelson Mandela Rule 43 states explicitly that “in no circumstances” is prolonged solitary confinement allowed. Rule 45 further requires that solitary confinement “shall be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort, for as short a time as possible and subject to independent review.” The Mandela Rules state: 

Rule 43 1. In no circumstances may restrictions or disciplinary sanctions amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The following practices, in particular, shall be prohibited: (a) Indefinite solitary confinement; (b) Prolonged solitary confinement; (c) Placement of a prisoner in a dark or constantly lit cell; (d) Corporal punishment or the reduction of a prisoner’s diet or drinking water; (e) Collective punishment. [Emphasis added.]

Rule 44. For the purpose of these rules, solitary confinement shall refer to the confinement of prisoners for 22 hours or more a day without meaningful human contact. Prolonged solitary confinement shall refer to solitary confinement for a time period in excess of 15 consecutive days. [Emphasis added.]

Rule 45 1. Solitary confinement shall be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort, for as short a time as possible and subject to independent review, and only pursuant to the authorization by a competent authority. It shall not be imposed by virtue of a prisoner’s sentence.

UN calls on US to conform to Nelson Mandela Rules on torture 

The Mandela Rules are the UN’s interpretive application of the binding treaty titled, “The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,” adopted by unanimous agreement of the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1984, and signed by the United States on April 18, 1988, and ratified by the Senate in 1994. 

According to that treaty, party States must submit reports to a commission tasked with reviewing compliance with and implementation of the terms of treaty. As recent as December 2023, the Human Rights Committee of the UN stated in its Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of the United States of America that it was concerned with “extensive use of solitary confinement in the State party, including prolonged and even indefinite solitary confinement.” The committee called on the U.S. to conform its practice and legislation to the Nelson Mandella Rules. 

The committee wrote in a section on solitary confinement: 

  1. While taking note that Executive Order 14074 states that “restrictive housing” in federal detention facilities is to be used rarely, applied fairly and subject to reasonable constraints, the Committee is concerned at reports of the extensive use of solitary confinement in the State party, including prolonged and even indefinite solitary confinement, and of its use with respect to juveniles and persons with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities or health needs (arts. 7, 9 and 10). 
  2. In line with the Committee’s previous recommendations,19 the State party should bring all legislation and practice relating to solitary confinement, at the federal, state, local and territorial levels, into line with the Covenant and international standards as reflected in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules). It should prohibit the use of solitary confinement for juveniles and persons with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities in prison. 

Just the year before, Biden had boasted of his administration’s “humane” treatment of prisoners, including freedom from “prolonged segregation” and “access to quality health care.” 

In an Executive Order of May 25, 2022, Biden claimed, “It is also the policy of my Administration to ensure that conditions of confinement are safe and humane, and that those who are incarcerated are not subjected to unnecessary or excessive uses of force, are free from prolonged segregation, and have access to quality health care.” 

However, not only does the UN categorize “prolonged solitary confinement” as a form of torture, but the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) also defines “isolation” as a form of torture. IRCT states: “Psychological forms of torture and ill-treatment, which very often have the most long-lasting consequences for victims, commonly include: isolation, threats, humiliation, mock executions, mock amputations, and witnessing the torture of others.” 

Just this month Democrats in Washington argued for federal restrictions on prolonged solitary confinement, all the while the Biden administration continues to hold pro-lifers behind bars in the nation’s capital and does not hesitate to imposed prolonged isolation. 

Withholding of medical care from the elderly is torture and elder abuse  

Under American law, the withholding of proper medical care or proper clothing from an elderly woman legally constitutes elder abuse. The DOJ officially defines on their own website: “Elder abuse is an intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult.” An older adult is a person 65 years of age or older.  

Without doubt, the withholding of urgent medical treatment, needed medication, as well as proper housing and clothing from an infirm 74-year-old woman, resulting in the contracting of a potentially life-threatening lung condition and injury to her right leg rendering her partially lame, would all constitute elder abuse. 

In addition to American domestic law, the international norms set forth in the Mandela Rules state that every prisoner must receive needed medical care and that medical decisions made by a doctor “may not be overruled or ignored by non-medical prison staff.” The specific texts are as follows: 

Rule 24 1. The provision of health care for prisoners is a State responsibility. Prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community, and should have access to necessary health-care services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status.

Rule 27 1. All prisons shall ensure prompt access to medical attention in urgent cases. Prisoners who require specialized treatment or surgery shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where a prison service has its own hospital facilities, they shall be adequately staffed and equipped to provide prisoners referred to them with appropriate treatment and care.

  1. Clinical decisions may only be taken by the responsible health-care professionals and may not be overruled or ignored by non-medical prison staff.

RELATED: Pro-life prisoner took part in DC rescue ‘as if the life of the Preborn Christ Child was at stake’ 

Degrading humiliation can constitute torture 

The U.S federal law titled the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 states that “No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” 

Article 16 of the binding Convention Against Torture states categorically: “Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article 1, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.” 

As cited by the International Justice Resource Center, according to international case law, degrading humiliation of a prisoner can qualify as torture or inhumane treatment, and a violation of dignity. Such acts can include detainment in leg irons and handcuffs. Citing case law, the Justice Center states on its website, concerning torture: “Actions aimed at humiliating individuals or causing psychological suffering may constitute torture or inhuman treatment, and also violate the right to human dignity.” 

It should be remembered that the defendant, Heather Idoni, is a middle-aged woman and mother to 15 children, 10 of whom she and her husband adopted from Ukraine. When she appeared in court in full shackles, the shocked judge not only ordered both her hands freed then and there but directed that in future she be brought into court in a dignified manner, in civilian clothes with no shackles whatsoever. 

Upcoming Sentencing for the “D.C. Nine” 

As should be clear to any objective observer, the Biden DOJ is intent on making an example of the “D.C. Nine” pro-lifers charged with violating the FACE Act and “conspiring against rights”. Perhaps the administration hopes to keep the re-emerging pro-life rescue movement from seeing the former successes of Operation Rescue, which shuttered many abortion clinics across the nation. If so, it has likely underestimated the resilience of those willing to suffer imprisonment for the sake of the innocent unborn threatened by abortion. 

The interrogation, prosecution, incarceration, torture, and inhumane treatment to which these heroic pro-lifers have been subjected and under which they presently suffer should rally all Americans of good will to demand an immediate redressing of theses grave injustices, the release of these prisoners, and the striking down of the egregious FACE Act, which has put them behind bars.  

Their sentencing is fast approaching: May 14, 15, and 17. Pray for them and for their vindication. 

LifeSiteNews’ extensive coverage of the D.C. FACE Act trials can be found here. 


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