A written request was sent to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which is part of the Organisation of American States to petition for the prosecution of those involved in the alleged torture of an estimated 135 African American criminal suspects.
According to the letter, between 1971 and 1992, more than 100 African-American men were subjected to various forms of abuse from police officers under the command of former police Lieutenant Jon Burge.
“There has never been a reckoning for this torture… We’re asking for a recommendation to the US government to take appropriate steps to punish the perpetrators,” said Locke Bowman, legal director of the MacArthur Justice Centre at the University of Chicago who co-signed the document.
The alleged torture included beatings, burns, suffocation, electric shocks and the staging of mock executions.
“Some of the victims remain in prison on convictions that were based largely on confessions coerced by torture,” the statement read.
“It has been for many years an open secret,” Mr Bowman said.
In 1990, a report by the police investigatory agency found that physical abuse “did occur and that it was systematic.”
“The type of abuse described was not limited to the usual beating, but went into such esoteric areas as psychological techniques and planned torture. The evidence presented by some individuals convinced juries and appellate courts that personnel assigned to (Chicago’s) Area 2 (police command) engaged in methodical abuse.”
Commander Burge was fired from the Chicago Police Department in 1993, leaving to settle in Florida and reportedly earning a police pension.
But the 56-year-old’s past continues to haunt him in the sunny southeastern state.
In January 2000, former Illinois governor, George Ryan, halted executions in the state and set free 13 inmates who had been languishing on death row saying they had been wrongly convicted.
This was followed three years later with the pardoning of four prisoners awaiting execution after it was determined they had been jailed because of confessions made under duress.
Among the four was Aaron Patterson, arrested in 1986 for the alleged murder of a couple, and sentenced to death in 1989.
On his release in 2003, he filed a federal law suit against the City of Chicago seeking US$30 million (A$39.9m) in compensation for his torture.
But just weeks before Mr Burge was due to appear for a deposition in August 2004, Patterson was picked up by police on weapons and drug charges.
“It is so disheartening, the way the system has tracked him, gone after him and got him off the streets,” former death row inmate Nathson Fields said of the man who reportedly paid his bond for release, according to the Final Call online news service.
Patterson was found guilty on July 29 this year in a case that has again stirred up unresolved anger in America’s Windy City.
Special Broadcasting Service