Torture

Torture

Overview
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain (whether physical or psychological
Psychological torture
Psychological torture is a type of torture that relies primarily on psychological effects, and only secondarily on any physical harm inflicted. Although not all psychological torture involves the use of physical violence, there is a continuum between psychological torture and physical torture...

) as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion. In addition to state-sponsored torture, individuals or groups may be motivated to inflict torture on others for similar reasons to those of a state; however, the motive for torture can also be for the sadistic gratification of the torturer.

Torture is prohibited under international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 and the domestic laws of most countries in the 21st century.
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Encyclopedia
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain (whether physical or psychological
Psychological torture
Psychological torture is a type of torture that relies primarily on psychological effects, and only secondarily on any physical harm inflicted. Although not all psychological torture involves the use of physical violence, there is a continuum between psychological torture and physical torture...

) as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion. In addition to state-sponsored torture, individuals or groups may be motivated to inflict torture on others for similar reasons to those of a state; however, the motive for torture can also be for the sadistic gratification of the torturer.

Torture is prohibited under international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 and the domestic laws of most countries in the 21st century. It is considered to be a violation of human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, and is declared to be unacceptable by Article 5 of the UN
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

. Signatories of the Third Geneva Convention
Third Geneva Convention
The Third Geneva Convention, relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was first adopted in 1929, but was significantly updated in 1949...

 and Fourth Geneva Convention
Fourth Geneva Convention
The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted in August 1949, and defines humanitarian protections for civilians...

 officially agree not to torture prisoners in armed conflicts. Torture is also prohibited by the United Nations Convention Against Torture
United Nations Convention Against Torture
The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is an international human rights instrument, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture around the world....

, which has been ratified by 147 countries.

National and international legal prohibitions on torture derive from a consensus that torture and similar ill-treatment are immoral, as well as impractical. Despite these international conventions, organizations that monitor abuses of human rights (e.g. Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims , is an independent, international health professional organisation that promotes and supports the rehabilitation of torture victims and works for the prevention of torture worldwide....

) report widespread use condoned by states in many regions of the world. Amnesty International estimates that at least 81 world governments currently practice torture, some of them openly.

Definitions


Torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture
United Nations Convention Against Torture
The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is an international human rights instrument, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture around the world....

 (an advisory measure of the UN General Assembly) is:
This definition was restricted to apply only to nations and to government-sponsored torture. It did not include cases of countries where torture such as mutilation
Mutilation
Mutilation or maiming is an act of physical injury that degrades the appearance or function of any living body, usually without causing death.- Usage :...

 or whipping
Flagellation
Flagellation or flogging is the act of methodically beating or whipping the human body. Specialised implements for it include rods, switches, the cat o' nine tails and the sjambok...

 is practiced as lawful punishment, nor did it include cases of torture practiced by gang
Gang
A gang is a group of people who, through the organization, formation, and establishment of an assemblage, share a common identity. In current usage it typically denotes a criminal organization or else a criminal affiliation. In early usage, the word gang referred to a group of workmen...

s or hate group
Hate group
A hate group is an organized group or movement that advocates and practices hatred, hostility, or violence towards members of a race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other designated sector of society...

s. In 1986, the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

 working group introduced the concept of organized violence, which was defined as:
"The inter-human infliction of significant, avoidable pain and suffering by an organized group according to a declared or implied strategy and/or system of ideas and attitudes. It comprises any violent action that is unacceptable by general human standards, and relates to the victims’ feelings. Organized violence includes “torture, cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” as in Article 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

 (1984). Imprisonment without trial, mock execution
Mock execution
A mock execution is a stratagem in which a victim is deliberately but falsely made to feel that his execution or that of another person is imminent or is taking place. It may be staged for an audience or a subject who is made to believe that he is being led to his own execution...

s, hostage
Hostage
A hostage is a person or entity which is held by a captor. The original definition meant that this was handed over by one of two belligerent parties to the other or seized as security for the carrying out of an agreement, or as a preventive measure against certain acts of war...

-taking, or any other form of violent deprivation of liberty, also fall under the heading of organized violence."


An even broader definition was used in the 1975 Declaration of Tokyo
Declaration of Tokyo
The Declaration of Tokyo is a set of international guidelines for physicians concerning torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in relation to detention and imprisonment, which was adopted in October 1975 during the 29th General assembly of the World Medical...

:
For the purpose of this Declaration, torture is defined as the deliberate, systematic or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons acting alone or on the orders of any authority, to force another person to yield information, to make a confession, or for any other reason.


This definition includes torture as part of domestic
Domestic violence
Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and intimate partner violence , is broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation...

 or ritualistic abuse, as well as in criminal activities. On the other hand, the United Nations' definition clearly limits the torture to that perpetrated, directly or indirectly, by those acting in an official capacity and appears to exclude 1) torture perpetrated by unofficial rebel
Rebel
Rebel may refer to:*Rebel, a participant in a rebellion-People:* Hans Rebel , Austrian entomologist* Jean-Féry Rebel , French Baroque composer and violinist* a member of the Rebel Alliance in the Star Wars universe...

s or terrorists who ignore national or international mandates; 2) random violence during war; and 3) punishment allowed by national laws, even if the punishment uses techniques similar to those used by torturers. Some professionals in the torture rehabilitation field believe that this definition is too restrictive and that the definition of politically motivated torture should be broadened to include all acts of organized violence.

Since 1973 Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 has adopted the simplest, broadest definition of torture:
"Torture is the systematic and deliberate infliction of acute pain by one person on another, or on a third person, in order to accomplish the purpose of the former against the will of the latter."

History



For most of recorded history, capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

s were often deliberately painful. Severe historical penalties include the breaking wheel
Breaking wheel
The breaking wheel, also known as the Catherine wheel or simply the wheel, was a torture device used for capital punishment in the Middle Ages and early modern times for public execution by bludgeoning to death...

, boiling to death
Boiling to death
Death by boiling is a method of execution in which a person is killed by being immersed in a boiling liquid such as water or oil. While not as common as other methods of execution, boiling to death has been used in many parts of Europe and Asia...

, flaying
Flaying
Flaying is the removal of skin from the body. Generally, an attempt is made to keep the removed portion of skin intact.-Scope:An animal may be flayed in preparation for human consumption, or for its hide or fur; this is more commonly called skinning....

, disembowelment
Disembowelment
Disembowelment is the removal of some or all of the organs of the gastrointestinal tract , usually through a horizontal incision made across the abdominal area. Disembowelment may result from an accident, but has also been used as a method of torture and execution...

, crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

, impalement
Impalement
Impalement is the traumatic penetration of an organism by an elongated foreign object such as a stake, pole, or spear, and this usually implies complete perforation of the central mass of the impaled body...

, crushing, stoning
Stoning
Stoning, or lapidation, is a form of capital punishment whereby a group throws stones at a person until the person dies. No individual among the group can be identified as the one who kills the subject, yet everyone involved plainly bears some degree of moral culpability. This is in contrast to the...

, execution by burning
Execution by burning
Death by burning is death brought about by combustion. As a form of capital punishment, burning has a long history as a method in crimes such as treason, heresy, and witchcraft....

, dismemberment
Dismemberment
Dismemberment is the act of cutting, tearing, pulling, wrenching or otherwise removing, the limbs of a living thing. It may be practiced upon human beings as a form of capital punishment, as a result of a traumatic accident, or in connection with murder, suicide, or cannibalism...

, sawing, scaphism
Scaphism
Scaphism, also known as the boats, was an ancient Persian method of execution designed to inflict torturous death. The name comes from the Greek word skaphe, meaning "scooped out"....

, or necklacing
Necklacing
Necklacing is the practice of summary execution and torture carried out by forcing a rubber tyre, filled with petrol, around a victim's chest and arms, and setting it on fire...

. An example from Archaic Greece is the story of the brazen bull
Brazen bull
The brazen bull, bronze bull, or Sicilian bull, was a torture and execution device designed in ancient Greece. Its inventor, metal worker Perillos of Athens, proposed it to Phalaris, the tyrant of Akragas, Sicily, as a new means of executing criminals. The bull was made entirely of bronze, hollow,...

 proposed to Phalaris
Phalaris
Phalaris was the tyrant of Acragas in Sicily, from approximately 570 to 554 BC.-History:He was entrusted with the building of the temple of Zeus Atabyrius in the citadel, and took advantage of his position to make himself despot. Under his rule Agrigentum seems to have attained considerable...

 in the mid 6th century BC. The Five Pains
The Five Pains
The Five Pains is a Chinese form of capital punishment invented during the Qin Dynasty . The Five Pains were as follows: first the victim's nose was cut off, followed by a hand and then a foot. The victim was then castrated and finally cut in half at the waist...

 are an example from Ancient China.

Deliberately painful methods of execution for severe crimes were taken for granted as part of justice until the development of Humanism
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 in 17th century philosophy, and "cruel and unusual punishment
Cruel and unusual punishment
Cruel and unusual punishment is a phrase describing criminal punishment which is considered unacceptable due to the suffering or humiliation it inflicts on the condemned person...

" came to be denounced in the English Bill of Rights of 1689. The Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 in the western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 further developed the idea of universal human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

. The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

 in 1948 marks the recognition at least nominally of a general ban of torture by all UN member states.
Its effect in practice is limited, however, as the Declaration is not ratified officially and does not have legally binding character in international law, but is rather considered part of customary international law
Customary international law
Customary international law are those aspects of international law that derive from custom. Along with general principles of law and treaties, custom is considered by the International Court of Justice, jurists, the United Nations, and its member states to be among the primary sources of...

.

Antiquity


The ancient Greeks and Romans used torture for interrogation. Until the 2nd century AD, torture was used only on slaves (with a few exceptions). After this point it began to be extended to all members of the lower classes. A slave's testimony was admissible only if extracted by torture, on the assumption that slaves could not be trusted to reveal the truth voluntarily.

One of the oldest methods of torture was crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

. Its antiquity is indicated in its wide use by the Phoenicians. It was employed also by the Scythians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians and the Carthaginians. Notorious mass crucifixions followed the slave rebellion
Slave rebellion
A slave rebellion is an armed uprising by slaves. Slave rebellions have occurred in nearly all societies that practice slavery, and are amongst the most feared events for slaveholders...

 under Spartacus
Spartacus
Spartacus was a famous leader of the slaves in the Third Servile War, a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. Little is known about Spartacus beyond the events of the war, and surviving historical accounts are sometimes contradictory and may not always be reliable...

 and the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. To frighten other slaves from revolting, Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus' men along the Appian Way
Appian Way
The Appian Way was one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It connected Rome to Brindisi, Apulia, in southeast Italy...

 from Capua to Rome. Prior to crucifixion, victims were often savagely whipped with barbed metal lashes, to induce exsanguination
Exsanguination
Exsanguination is the fatal process of hypovolemia , to a degree sufficient enough to cause death. One does not have to lose literally all of one's blood to cause death...

 (bleeding to death). This had the effect of weakening the condemned and thus sped up what could be an inconveniently long execution process.

Over time the conceptual definition of torture has been expanded and remains a major question for ethics, philosophy, and law, but clearly includes the practices of many subsequent cultures.

Modern scholars find the concept of torture to be compatible with society's concept of Justice
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

 during the time of Jesus Christ. Romans, Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Egyptians and many others cultures during that time included torture as part of their justice system. Romans had crucifixion, Jews had stoning
Stoning
Stoning, or lapidation, is a form of capital punishment whereby a group throws stones at a person until the person dies. No individual among the group can be identified as the one who kills the subject, yet everyone involved plainly bears some degree of moral culpability. This is in contrast to the...

 and Egyptians had desert sun death. All these acts of torture were considered necessary (as to deter others) or good (as to punish the immoral).

Middle Ages




Medieval and early modern European courts used torture, depending on the crime of the accused and his or her social status. Torture was deemed a legitimate means to extract confessions or to obtain the names of accomplices or other information about a crime. It was permitted by law only if there was already half-proof
Half-proof
Half-proof , was a concept of medieval Roman law, describing a level of evidence between mere suspicion and the full proof needed to convict someone of a crime...

 against the accused. Often, defendants already sentenced to death would be tortured to force them to disclose the names of accomplices. Torture in the Medieval Inquisition
Medieval Inquisition
The Medieval Inquisition is a series of Inquisitions from around 1184, including the Episcopal Inquisition and later the Papal Inquisition...

 began in 1252 with a papal bull Ad Extirpanda and ended in 1816 when another papal bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

 forbade its use.

While secular courts often treated suspects ferociously, Will
Will Durant
William James Durant was a prolific American writer, historian, and philosopher. He is best known for The Story of Civilization, 11 volumes written in collaboration with his wife Ariel Durant and published between 1935 and 1975...

 and Ariel Durant argued in The Age of Faith that many of the most vicious procedures were inflicted upon pious heretics
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 by even more pious friars. The Dominicans
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 gained a reputation as some of the most fearsomely innovative torturers in medieval Spain.

Torture was usually conducted in secret, in underground dungeons. By contrast, torturous executions were typically public, and woodcuts of English prisoners being hanged, drawn and quartered
Hanged, drawn and quartered
To be hanged, drawn and quartered was from 1351 a penalty in England for men convicted of high treason, although the ritual was first recorded during the reigns of King Henry III and his successor, Edward I...

 show large crowds of spectators, as do paintings of Spanish auto-da-fé
Auto-da-fé
An auto-da-fé was the ritual of public penance of condemned heretics and apostates that took place when the Spanish Inquisition or the Portuguese Inquisition had decided their punishment, followed by the execution by the civil authorities of the sentences imposed...

 executions, in which heretics were burned at the stake.

Early modern period


During the early modern period, the torture of witches took place. In 1613, Anton Praetorius
Anton Praetorius
Anton Praetorius was a German Calvinist pastor who spoke out against the persecution of witches and against torture.-Life and writings :...

 described the situation of the prisoners in the dungeons in his book Gründlicher Bericht Von Zauberey und Zauberern (Thorough Report about Sorcery and Sorcerers). He was one of the first to protest against all means of torture.

In England the trial by jury
Jury
A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to ascertain the guilt, or lack thereof, in a crime. In Anglophone jurisdictions, the verdict may be guilty,...

 developed considerable freedom in evaluating evidence and condemning on circumstantial evidence
Circumstantial evidence
Circumstantial evidence is evidence in which an inference is required to connect it to a conclusion of fact, like a fingerprint at the scene of a crime...

, making torture to extort confessions unnecessary. For this reason in England a regularized system of judicial torture never existed and its use was limited to political cases. Torture was in theory not permitted under English law, but in Tudor and early Stuart times, under certain conditions, torture was used in England. For example the confession of Marc Smeaton
Marc Smeaton
Mark Smeaton was a musician at the court of Henry VIII of England in the household of Queen Anne Boleyn. He was one of five men executed for alleged treason and adultery with Queen Anne.-Smeaton's background:...

 at the trial of Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn ;c.1501/1507 – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of Henry VIII of England and Marquess of Pembroke in her own right. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the...

 was presented in written form only, either to hide from the court that Smeaton had been tortured on the rack
The Rack
The Rack is the first album by Asphyx. It was released in 1991 by Century Media Records.-Track listing:# "The Quest for Absurdity" – 1:21# "Vermin" – 4:02# "Diabolical Existence" – 3:55# "Evocation" – 5:31# "Wasteland of Terror" – 2:16...

 for four hours, or because Thomas Cromwell was worried that he would recant his confession if cross-examined. When Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes , also known as Guido Fawkes, the name he adopted while fighting for the Spanish in the Low Countries, belonged to a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.Fawkes was born and educated in York...

 was arrested for his role in the Gunpowder Plot
Gunpowder Plot
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.The plan was to blow up the House of...

 of 1605 he was tortured until he revealed all he knew about the plot. This was not so much to extract a confession, which was not needed to prove his guilt, but to extract from him the names of his fellow conspirators. By this time torture was not routine in England and a special warrant from King James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 was needed before he could be tortured. The wording of the warrant shows some concerns for humanitarian considerations, the severity of the methods of interrogation were to be increased gradually until the interrogators were sure that Fawkes had told all he knew. In the end this did not help Fawkes much as he was broken on the only rack in England, which was in the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

. Torture was abolished in England around 1640 (except peine forte et dure, which was abolished in 1772).

In Colonial America
Colonial America
The colonial history of the United States covers the history from the start of European settlement and especially the history of the thirteen colonies of Britain until they declared independence in 1776. In the late 16th century, England, France, Spain and the Netherlands launched major...

, women were sentenced to the stocks
Stocks
Stocks are devices used in the medieval and colonial American times as a form of physical punishment involving public humiliation. The stocks partially immobilized its victims and they were often exposed in a public place such as the site of a market to the scorn of those who passed by...

 with wooden clips on their tongues or subjected to the "dunking stool" for the gender-specific crime of talking too much. Certain Native American peoples, especially in the area that later became the eastern half of the United States, engaged in the sacrificial torture of war captives.

In the 17th century the number of incidents of judicial torture decreased in many European regions. Johann Graefe in 1624 published Tribunal Reformation, a case against torture. Cesare Beccaria, an Italian lawyer, published in 1764 "An Essay on Crimes and Punishments", in which he argued that torture unjustly punished the innocent and should be unnecessary in proving guilt. Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 (1694–1778) also fiercely condemned torture in some of his essays.

While in Egypt in 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte wrote to Major-General Berthier that the


barbarous custom of whipping men suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this method of interrogation, by putting men to the torture, is useless. The wretches say whatever comes into their heads and whatever they think one wants to believe. Consequently, the Commander-in-Chief forbids the use of a method which is contrary to reason and humanity.


European states abolished torture from their statutory law in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Sweden and Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 were the first to do so in 1722 and 1754 respectively; Denmark abolished torture in 1770, Russia in 1774, Austria in 1776, France in 1780, and the Netherlands in 1798. Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

 abolished torture in 1806 and Württemberg
Württemberg
Württemberg , formerly known as Wirtemberg or Wurtemberg, is an area and a former state in southwestern Germany, including parts of the regions Swabia and Franconia....

 in 1809. In Spain the Napoleonic conquest put an end to torture in 1808. Norway abolished it in 1819 and Portugal in 1826. The Swiss
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 cantons abolished torture in the first half of the 19th century.

Tortures included the chevalet, in which an accused witch sat on a pointed metal horse with weights strung from her feet. Sexual humiliation torture included forced sitting on red-hot stools. Gresillons, also called pennywinkis in Scotland, crushed the tips of fingers and toes in a vice-like device. The Spanish Boot, or "leg-screw", used mostly in Germany and Scotland, was a steel boot that was placed over the leg of the accused and was tightened. The pressure from the squeezing of the boot would break the shin bone in pieces. An anonymous Scotsman called it "The most severe and cruel pain in the world".H.R. Trevor-Roper, The European Witch-Craze of The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries and Other Essays, (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), 121. The echelle more commonly known as the "ladder" or "rack" was a long table that the accused would lie upon and be stretched violently. The torture was used so intensely that on many occasions the victim's limbs would be pulled out of the socket and, at times, the limbs would even be torn from the body entirely. On some special occasions a tortillon was used in conjunction with the ladder which would severely squeeze and mutilate the genitals at the same time as the stretching was occurring. Similar to the ladder was the "lift". It too stretched the limbs of the accused, this time however the victim's feet were strapped to the ground and their arms were tied behind their back before a rope was tied to their hands and lifted upwards. This caused the arms to break before the horrific portion of the stretching began.

Recent times



Modern sensibilities have been shaped by a profound reaction to the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Axis Powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 in the Second World War, which have led to a sweeping international rejection of most if not all aspects of the practice. Even so, many states engage in torture; however, few wish to be described as doing so, either to their own citizens or to international bodies. A variety of devices bridge this gap, including state denial
Plausible deniability
Plausible deniability is, at root, credible ability to deny a fact or allegation, or to deny previous knowledge of a fact. The term most often refers to the denial of blame in chains of command, where upper rungs quarantine the blame to the lower rungs, and the lower rungs are often inaccessible,...

, "secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

", "need to know
Need to know
The term "need to know", when used by government and other organizations , describes the restriction of data which is considered very sensitive...

", denial that given treatments are torturous in nature, appeal to various laws (national or international), use of jurisdictional argument, claim of "overriding need", and so on. Many states throughout history, and many states today, have engaged in torture (unofficially).

According to scholar, Ervand Abrahamian
Ervand Abrahamian
Ervand Abrahamian is a historian of Middle Eastern and particularly Iranian history.An Armenian born in Iran and raised in England, he received his M.A. at Oxford University and his Ph.D. at Columbia University. He teaches at the City University of New York where he is Distinguished Professor of...

, although there were several decades of prohibition of torture that spread from Europe to most parts of the world, by 1980s the taboo against torture was broken, and torture "returned with a vengeance," propelled in part by television and opportunity to break political prisoners and broadcast the resulting public recantations of their political beliefs for "ideological warfare, political mobilization, and the need to win `hearts and minds.`" According to professor Darius Rejali, although dictatorships may have used tortured "more, and more indiscriminately", it was modern democracies, "the United States, Britain, and France" who "pioneered and exported techniques that have become the lingua franca of modern torture: methods that leave no marks."

Torture has become distressingly common in liberal democracies despite several international treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from March 23, 1976...

 and the UN Convention Against Torture making torture illegal. Despite such international conventions, torture cases continue to arise such as the 2004 Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse
Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse
Beginning in 2004, human rights violations in the form of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, including torture, rape, sodomy, and homicide of prisoners held in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq came to public attention...

 scandal committed by military police personnel of the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

. The US Constitution and US federal law prohibits the use of torture, yet such human rights violations were allowed to occur.

According to the findings of Dr. Christian Davenport of the University of Notre Dame, Professor William Moore of Florida State University, and David Armstrong of Oxford University during their torture research, evidence suggests that non-governmental organizations have played the most determinant factor for stopping torture once it gets started. Preliminary research suggests that is it civil society, not government institutions, that can stop torture once it has begun. Organization such as Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 serve to expose widespread human rights violations and hold the individuals accountable to the international community.

Historical methods of execution and capital punishment


For most of recorded history, capital punishments were often cruel and inhumane. Severe historical penalties include breaking wheel
Breaking wheel
The breaking wheel, also known as the Catherine wheel or simply the wheel, was a torture device used for capital punishment in the Middle Ages and early modern times for public execution by bludgeoning to death...

, boiling to death
Boiling to death
Death by boiling is a method of execution in which a person is killed by being immersed in a boiling liquid such as water or oil. While not as common as other methods of execution, boiling to death has been used in many parts of Europe and Asia...

, flaying
Flaying
Flaying is the removal of skin from the body. Generally, an attempt is made to keep the removed portion of skin intact.-Scope:An animal may be flayed in preparation for human consumption, or for its hide or fur; this is more commonly called skinning....

, slow slicing, disembowelment
Disembowelment
Disembowelment is the removal of some or all of the organs of the gastrointestinal tract , usually through a horizontal incision made across the abdominal area. Disembowelment may result from an accident, but has also been used as a method of torture and execution...

, crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

, impalement
Impalement
Impalement is the traumatic penetration of an organism by an elongated foreign object such as a stake, pole, or spear, and this usually implies complete perforation of the central mass of the impaled body...

, crushing, stoning
Stoning
Stoning, or lapidation, is a form of capital punishment whereby a group throws stones at a person until the person dies. No individual among the group can be identified as the one who kills the subject, yet everyone involved plainly bears some degree of moral culpability. This is in contrast to the...

, execution by burning
Execution by burning
Death by burning is death brought about by combustion. As a form of capital punishment, burning has a long history as a method in crimes such as treason, heresy, and witchcraft....

, dismemberment
Dismemberment
Dismemberment is the act of cutting, tearing, pulling, wrenching or otherwise removing, the limbs of a living thing. It may be practiced upon human beings as a form of capital punishment, as a result of a traumatic accident, or in connection with murder, suicide, or cannibalism...

, sawing, decapitation
Decapitation
Decapitation is the separation of the head from the body. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder or execution; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe, sword, knife, wire, or by other more sophisticated means such as a guillotine...

, scaphism
Scaphism
Scaphism, also known as the boats, was an ancient Persian method of execution designed to inflict torturous death. The name comes from the Greek word skaphe, meaning "scooped out"....

, or necklacing
Necklacing
Necklacing is the practice of summary execution and torture carried out by forcing a rubber tyre, filled with petrol, around a victim's chest and arms, and setting it on fire...

.

Slow slicing, or death by/of a thousand cuts, was a form of execution used in China from roughly 900 AD to its abolition in 1905. According to apocryphal lore, língchí began when the torturer, wielding an extremely sharp knife, began by putting out the eyes, rendering the condemned incapable of seeing the remainder of the torture and, presumably, adding considerably to the psychological terror of the procedure. Successive rather minor cuts chopped off ears, nose, tongue, fingers, toes, and such before proceeding to grosser cuts that removed large collops of flesh from more sizable parts, e.g., thighs and shoulders. The entire process was said to last three days, and to total 3,600 cuts. The heavily carved bodies of the deceased were then put on a parade for a show in the public.

Impalement was a method of torture and execution whereby a person is pierced with a long stake. The penetration can be through the sides, from the rectum
Rectum
The rectum is the final straight portion of the large intestine in some mammals, and the gut in others, terminating in the anus. The human rectum is about 12 cm long...

, or through the mouth
Mouth
The mouth is the first portion of the alimentary canal that receives food andsaliva. The oral mucosa is the mucous membrane epithelium lining the inside of the mouth....

. This method would lead to slow, painful, death. Often, the victim was hoisted into the air after partial impalement. Gravity and the victim's own struggles would cause him to slide down the pole. Death could take many days. Impalement was frequently practiced in Asia and Europe throughout the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. Vlad III Dracula and Ivan the Terrible have passed into legend as major users of the method.

The breaking wheel was a torturous capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 device used in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 and early modern times for public execution by cudgeling
Club (weapon)
A club is among the simplest of all weapons. A club is essentially a short staff, or stick, usually made of wood, and wielded as a weapon since prehistoric times....

 to death, especially in France and Germany. In France the condemned were placed on a cart-wheel with their limbs stretched out along the spokes over two sturdy wooden beams. The wheel was made to slowly revolve. Through the openings between the spokes, the executioner hit the victim with an iron hammer that could easily break the victim's bones. This process was repeated several times per limb. Once his bones were broken, he was left on the wheel to die. It could take hours, even days, before shock and dehydration caused death. The punishment was abolished in Germany as late as 1827.

Etymology


The word 'torture' comes from the French torture, originating in the Late Latin
Late Latin
Late Latin is the scholarly name for the written Latin of Late Antiquity. The English dictionary definition of Late Latin dates this period from the 3rd to the 6th centuries AD extending in Spain to the 7th. This somewhat ambiguously defined period fits between Classical Latin and Medieval Latin...

 tortura and ultimately deriving the past participle of torquere meaning 'to twist'. The word is also used loosely to describe more ordinary discomforts that would be accurately described as tedious rather than painful; for example, "making this spreadsheet was torture!"

Roman Catholic Church


Although the Catholic Church had sanctioned governments' use of torture during the medieval inquisitions (see Papal Bull: Ad extirpanda), and this practice was approved by Church officials until the mid-19th century as a legal and moral way of extracting confessions from alleged heretics, witches, or regular criminals, further advocating cruel means of execution for said heretics and witches, the modern Church's views regarding torture have changed drastically which are generally associated with the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 . Thus, the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. A provisional, "reference text" was issued by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992 — "the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" — with his apostolic...

(published in 1994) condemns the use of torture as a grave violation of Human Rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

. In No. 2297-2298 it states:

Laws against torture


On December 10, 1948 the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

 (UDHR). Article 5 states, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Since that time, a number of other international treaties have been adopted to prevent the use of torture. Two of these are the United Nations Convention Against Torture
United Nations Convention Against Torture
The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is an international human rights instrument, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture around the world....

 and for international conflicts the Geneva Conventions
Geneva Conventions
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war...

 III and IV.

United Nations Convention Against Torture


The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
United Nations Convention Against Torture
The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is an international human rights instrument, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture around the world....

 (UNCAT) came into force in June 1987. The most relevant articles are Articles 1, 2, 3, and the first paragraph of Article 16.


Note several points:
  • Article 1: Torture is "severe pain or suffering". The European Court of Human Rights
    European Court of Human Rights
    The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...

     (ECHR) influences discussions on this area of international law. See the section Other conventions for more details on the ECHR ruling.
  • Article 2: There are "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever" where a state can use torture and not break its treaty obligations".
  • Article 16: Obliges signatories to prevent "acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment", in "any territory under its jurisdiction".When ratifying the treaty the United States added a reservation that the definition of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" meant "the cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States".(Yee, Sienho (2004). International crime and punishment: selected issues, University Press of America, ISBN 0-7618-2887-7, 9780761828877 p. 208, Footnote 18. cites Convention Against Torture, Annex I,I.). See also Torture and the United States.The unanimous Law Lords judgment on December 8, 2005 ruled that, under English law tradition, "torture and its fruits" could not be used in court (Torture evidence inadmissible in UK courts, Lords rules by Staff and agencies in The Guardian
    The Guardian
    The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

     December 8, 2005). But the information thus obtained could be used by the British police and security services as "it would be ludicrous for them to disregard information about a ticking bomb if it had been procured by torture." (Torture ruling's international impact by Jon Silverman BBC
    BBC
    The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

     8 December 2005)


As of June 2008, 145 states are parties to the Convention against Torture, and another nine states have signed but not ratified the treaty.

Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture


The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture
OPCAT
The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is an important addition to the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture...

 (OPCAT) entered into force on 22 June 2006 as an important addition to the UNCAT. As stated in Article 1, the purpose of the protocol is to "establish a system of regular visits undertaken by independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Each state ratifying the OPCAT, according to Article 17, is responsible for creating or maintaining at least one independent national preventive mechanism for torture prevention at the domestic level.

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court




The Rome Statute
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court . It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on 17 July 1998 and it entered into force on 1 July 2002. As of 13 October 2011, 119 states are party to the statute...

, which established the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

 (ICC), provides for criminal prosecution of individuals responsible for genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

, war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

s, and crimes against humanity. The statute defines torture as "intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, upon a person in the custody or under the control of the accused; except that torture shall not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions". Under Article 7 of the statute, torture may be considered a crime against humanity "when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack". Article 8 of the statute provides that torture may also, under certain circumstances, be prosecuted as a war crime.

The ICC came into existence on 1 July 2002 and can only prosecute crimes committed on or after that date. The court can generally exercise jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

 only in cases where the accused is a national of a state party to the Rome Statute, the alleged crime took place on the territory of a state party, or a situation is referred to the court by the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

. The court is designed to complement existing national judicial systems: it can exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes. Primary responsibility to investigate and punish crimes is therefore reserved to individual states.

Geneva Conventions


The four Geneva Conventions
Geneva Conventions
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war...

 provide protection for people who fall into enemy hands.
The conventions do not clearly divide people into combatant and non-combatant roles. The conventions refer to:
  • "wounded and sick combatants or non-combatants"
  • "civilian persons who take no part in hostilities, and who, while they reside in the zones, perform no work of a military character"
  • "Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces"
  • "Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements"
  • "Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power"
  • "Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces"
  • "Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory"


The third
Third Geneva Convention
The Third Geneva Convention, relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was first adopted in 1929, but was significantly updated in 1949...

 (GCIII) and fourth
Fourth Geneva Convention
The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted in August 1949, and defines humanitarian protections for civilians...

 (GCIV) Geneva Conventions are the two most relevant for the treatment of the victims of conflicts. Both treaties state in Article 3, in similar wording, that in a non-international armed conflict, "Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms... shall in all circumstances be treated humanely." The treaty also states that there must not be any "violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation
Mutilation
Mutilation or maiming is an act of physical injury that degrades the appearance or function of any living body, usually without causing death.- Usage :...

, cruel treatment and torture" or "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment".

GCIV covers most civilian
Civilian
A civilian under international humanitarian law is a person who is not a member of his or her country's armed forces or other militia. Civilians are distinct from combatants. They are afforded a degree of legal protection from the effects of war and military occupation...

s in an international armed conflict, and says they are usually "Protected Persons" (see exemptions section immediately after this for those who are not). Under Article 32, protected persons have the right to protection from "murder, torture, corporal punishments, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments...but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by non-combatant or military agents".

GCIII covers the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs) in an international armed conflict. In particular, Article 17 says that "No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind." POW status under GCIII has far fewer exemptions than "Protected Person" status under GCIV. Captured enemy combatants in an international armed conflict automatically have the protection of GCIII and are POWs under GCIII unless they are determined by a competent tribunal to not be a POW (GCIII Article 5).

Geneva Convention IV exemptions
GCIV provides an important exemption:
Also, nationals of a State not bound by the Convention are not protected by it, and nationals of a neutral State in the territory of a combatant State, and nationals of a co-belligerent State, cannot claim the protection of GCIV if their home state has normal diplomatic representation in the State that holds them (Article 4), as their diplomatic representatives can take steps to protect them. The requirement to treat persons with "humanity" implies that it is still prohibited to torture individuals not protected by the Convention.

The George W. Bush administration
George W. Bush administration
The presidency of George W. Bush began on January 20, 2001, when he was inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States of America. The oldest son of former president George H. W. Bush, George W...

 afforded fewer protections, under GCIII, to detainees in the "War on Terror
War on Terror
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

" by codifying the legal status of an "unlawful combatant
Unlawful combatant
An unlawful combatant or unprivileged combatant/belligerent is a civilian who directly engages in armed conflict in violation of the laws of war. An unlawful combatant may be detained or prosecuted under the domestic law of the detaining state for such action.The Geneva Conventions apply in wars...

". If there is a question of whether a person is a lawful combatant, he (or she) must be treated as a POW "until their status has been determined by a competent tribunal" (GCIII Article 5). If the tribunal decides that he is an unlawful combatant, he is not considered a protected person under GCIII. However, if he is a protected person under GCIV he still has some protection under GCIV, and must be "treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention" (GCIV Article 5).
"Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third Convention, a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention, or again, a member of the medical personnel of the armed forces who is covered by the First Convention. There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can be outside the law. We feel that this is a satisfactory solution – not only satisfying to the mind, but also, and above all, satisfactory from the humanitarian point of view.", because in the opinion of the ICRC "If civilians directly engage in hostilities, they are considered 'unlawful' or 'unprivileged' combatants or belligerents (the treaties of humanitarian law do not expressly contain these terms). They may be prosecuted under the domestic law of the detaining state for such action" (Jean Pictet
Jean Pictet
Jean Simon Pictet was a Swiss jurist, expert in international humanitarian law and senior staff member and Vice President of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He was the main architect of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol I and Protocol II...

 (ed.) – Commentary: IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1958) – 1994 reprint edition). Geneva Conventions Protocol I Article 51.3 also covers this interpretation "Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities".


Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions
There are two additional protocols to the Geneva Convention: Protocol I
Protocol I
Protocol I is a 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions relating to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts. It reaffirms the international laws of the original Geneva Conventions of 1949, but adds clarifications and new provisions to accommodate developments in modern...

 (1977), relating to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts and Protocol II
Protocol II
Protocol II is a 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts. It defines certain international laws that strive to provide better protection for victims of internal armed conflicts that take place within the borders...

 (1977), relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts. These clarify and extend the definitions in some areas, but to date many countries, including the United States, have either not signed them or have not ratified them.

Protocol I
Protocol I
Protocol I is a 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions relating to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts. It reaffirms the international laws of the original Geneva Conventions of 1949, but adds clarifications and new provisions to accommodate developments in modern...

 does not mention torture but it does affect the treatment of POWs and Protected Persons. In Article 5, the protocol explicitly involves "the appointment of Protecting Powers and of their substitute" to monitor that the Parties to the conflict are enforcing the Conventions. The protocol also broadens the definition of a lawful combatant in wars against "alien occupation, colonial domination and racist regimes" to include those who carry arms openly but are not wearing uniforms, so that they are now lawful combatants and protected by the Geneva Conventions—although only if the Occupying Power has ratified Protocol I. Under the original conventions combatants without a recognisable insignia could be treated as criminals, and potentially be executed. It also mentions spies, and defines who is a mercenary. Mercenaries and spies are considered an unlawful combatant, and not protected by the same conventions.

Protocol II
Protocol II
Protocol II is a 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts. It defines certain international laws that strive to provide better protection for victims of internal armed conflicts that take place within the borders...

 "develops and supplements Article 3 [relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts] common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 without modifying its existing conditions of application" (Article 1). Any person who does not take part in or ceased to take part in hostilities is entitled to humane treatment. Among the acts prohibited against these persons are, "Violence to the life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder as well as cruel treatment such as torture, mutilation or any form of corporal punishment" (Article 4.a), "Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, rape, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault" (Article 4.e), and "Threats to commit any of the foregoing acts" (Article 4.h). Clauses in other articles implore humane treatment of enemy personnel in an internal conflict. These have a bearing on torture, but no other clauses explicitly mention torture.

Other conventions


In accordance with the optional UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (1955), "corporal punishment
Corporal punishment
Corporal punishment is a form of physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable...

, punishment by placing in a dark cell, and all cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments shall be completely prohibited as punishments for disciplinary offences."
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from March 23, 1976...

, (16 December 1966), explicitly prohibits torture and "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" by signatories.

European agreements

In 1950 during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, the participating member states of the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

 signed the European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953...

. The treaty was based on the UDHR. It included the provision for a court to interpret the treaty, and Article 3 "Prohibition of torture" stated; "No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

In 1978, the European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...

 ruled that the five techniques
Five techniques
The term five techniques refers to certain interrogation practices adopted by the Northern Ireland and British governments during Operation Demetrius in the early 1970s...

 of "sensory deprivation
Sensory deprivation
Sensory deprivation or perceptual isolation is the deliberate reduction or removal of stimuli from one or more of the senses. Simple devices such as blindfolds or hoods and earmuffs can cut off sight and hearing respectively, while more complex devices can also cut off the sense of smell, touch,...

" were not torture as laid out in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, but were "inhuman or degrading treatment" (see Accusations of use of torture by United Kingdom for details). This case occurred nine years before the United Nations Convention Against Torture came into force and had an influence on thinking about what constitutes torture ever since.

On 26 November 1987 the member states of the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

, meeting at Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

, adopted the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was adopted by the member states of the Council of Europe, meeting at Strasbourg on 26 November 1987. It was subsequently amended by two Protocols that entered into force on 1 March 2002...

 (ECPT). Two additional Protocols amended the Convention, which entered into force on 1 March 2002. The Convention set up the Committee for the Prevention of Torture
Committee for the Prevention of Torture
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment or shortly Committee for the Prevention of Torture is the anti-torture committee of the Council of Europe...

 to oversee compliance with its provisions.

Inter-American Convention
The Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture
Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture
The Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture is an international human rights instrument, created in 1985 within the Western Hemisphere Organization of American States and intended to prevent torture and other similar activities....

, currently ratified by 17 nations of the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 and in force since 28 February 1987, defines torture more expansively than the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

Supervision of anti-torture treaties


The Istanbul Protocol
Istanbul Protocol
The Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, commonly known as the Istanbul Protocol, is the first set of international guidelines for documentation of torture and its consequences...

, an official UN document, is the first set of international guidelines for documentation of torture and its consequences. It became a United Nations official document in 1999.

Under the provisions of OPCAT
OPCAT
The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is an important addition to the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture...

 that entered into force on 22 June 2006 independent international and national bodies regularly visit places where people are deprived of their liberty, to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Each state that ratified the OPCAT, according to Article 17, is responsible for creating or maintaining at least one independent national preventative mechanism for torture prevention at the domestic level.

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, citing Article 1 of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture, states that it will, "by means of visits, examine the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty with a view to strengthening, if necessary, the protection of such persons from torture and from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".

In times of armed conflict between a signatory of the Geneva conventions and another party, delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

 (ICRC) monitor the compliance of signatories to the Geneva Conventions, which includes monitoring the use of torture. Human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

, the World Organization Against Torture, and Association for the Prevention of Torture
Association for the Prevention of Torture
The Association for the Prevention of Torture is an international non-governmental organisation focused on the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment...

 work actively to stop the use of torture throughout the world and publish reports on any activities they consider to be torture.

Municipal law


States
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 that ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture
United Nations Convention Against Torture
The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is an international human rights instrument, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture around the world....

 have a treaty obligation to include the provisions into municipal law
Municipal law
Municipal law is the national, domestic, or internal law of a sovereign state defined in opposition to international law. Municipal law includes not only law at the national level, but law at the state, provincial, territorial, regional or local levels...

. The laws of many states therefore formally prohibit torture. However, such de jure
De jure
De jure is an expression that means "concerning law", as contrasted with de facto, which means "concerning fact".De jure = 'Legally', De facto = 'In fact'....

legal provisions are by no means a proof that, de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

, the signatory country does not use torture.

To prevent torture, many legal systems have a right against self-incrimination or explicitly prohibit undue force when dealing with suspects.

England abolished torture in about 1640 (except peine forte et dure, which England only abolished in 1772), Scotland in 1708, Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 in 1740, Denmark around 1770, Russia in 1774, Austria
Habsburg Monarchy
The Habsburg Monarchy covered the territories ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg , and then by the successor House of Habsburg-Lorraine , between 1526 and 1867/1918. The Imperial capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague...

 and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 in 1776, Italy in 1786, France in 1789, Baden
Baden
Baden is a historical state on the east bank of the Rhine in the southwest of Germany, now the western part of the Baden-Württemberg of Germany....

 in 1831, Japan in 1873.

The last European jurisdictions to abolish legal torture were Portugal (1828) and the canton of Glarus
Glarus
Glarus is the capital of the Canton of Glarus in Switzerland. Glarus municipality since 1 January 2011 incorporates the former municipalities of Ennenda, Netstal and Riedern....

 in Switzerland (1851).

The French 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is a fundamental document of the French Revolution, defining the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid...

, of constitutional value, prohibits submitting suspects to any hardship not necessary to secure his or her person. Statute law explicitly makes torture a crime. In addition, statute law prohibits the police or justice from interrogating suspects under oath.

As the United States Constitution recognizes customary international law
Customary international law
Customary international law are those aspects of international law that derive from custom. Along with general principles of law and treaties, custom is considered by the International Court of Justice, jurists, the United Nations, and its member states to be among the primary sources of...

, or the law of nations, the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act also provides legal remedies for victims of torture in the United States. Specifically, the status of torturers under the law of the United States, as determined by a famous legal decision in 1980, Filártiga v. Peña-Irala
Filártiga v. Peña-Irala
Filártiga v. Peña-Irala, was a landmark case in United States and international law. It set the precedent for United States federal courts to punish non-American citizens for tortious acts committed outside the United States that were in violation of public international law or any treaties to...

, 630 F.2d 876
Case citation
Case citation is the system used in many countries to identify the decisions in past court cases, either in special series of books called reporters or law reports, or in a 'neutral' form which will identify a decision wherever it was reported...

 (1980), is that, "the torturer has become, like the pirate and the slave trader before him, hostis humani generis
Hostis humani generis
Hostis humani generis is a legal term of art that originates from admiralty law. Before the adoption of public international law, maritime pirates and slavers were held to be beyond legal protection, and could be dealt with as seen fit by any nation, even if that nation had not been directly...

, an enemy of all mankind."

Exclusion of Evidence Obtained Under Torture


Recently the question of the use of evidence obtained under torture has arisen in connection with prosecutions in the so-called War on Terror
War on Terror
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

 in the United Kingdom and the United States.
United Kingdom

During a House of Commons debate on 7 July 2009, MP David Davis
David Davis (British politician)
David Michael Davis is a British Conservative Party politician who is the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Haltemprice and Howden...

 accused the UK government of outsourcing torture, by allowing Rangzieb Ahmed
Rangzieb Ahmed
Rangzieb Ahmed is a British Citizen who was allegedly the highest ranking Al-Qaeda operative in the United Kingdom. Ahmed, who was a key link between British recruits and al-Qaeda leaders, was responsible for setting up a terrorist cell in Manchester, and had contacts with one of the terrorists...

 to leave the country (even though they had evidence against him upon which he was later convicted for terrorism) to Pakistan, where it is said the Inter-Services Intelligence
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

 was given the go ahead by the British intelligence agencies to torture Ahmed. Davis further accused the government of trying to gag Ahmed, stopping him coming forward with his accusations, after he had been imprisoned back in the UK. He said, there was "an alleged request to drop his allegations of torture: if he did that, they could get his sentence cut and possibly give him some money. If this request to drop the torture case is true, it is frankly monstrous. It would at the very least be a criminal misuse of the powers and funds under the Government's Contest strategy, and at worst a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice."

In 2003, the United Kingdom's Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

, Craig Murray
Craig Murray
Craig John Murray is a British political activist, former ambassador to Uzbekistan and former Rector of the University of Dundee....

, suggested that it was "wrong to use information gleaned from torture". In March 2003 he was informed in the London offices of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, commonly called the Foreign Office or the FCO is a British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom overseas, created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.The head of the FCO is the...

 (FCO) by Sir Michael Wood, chief Legal Adviser, that it was not illegal under the UN Convention Against Torture for the UK to obtain or to use intelligence gained under torture, provided the British government itself did not use torture or request that a named individual be tortured.

The unanimous Law Lords judgment on December 8, 2005 confirmed this position. They ruled that, under English law tradition, "torture and its fruits" could not be used in court. But the information thus obtained could be used by the British police and security services as "it would be ludicrous for them to disregard information about a ticking bomb if it had been procured by torture." The Law Lords thus dismissed concerns about the validity of information obtained under torture, which have been expressed by various security agents and human rights activists.

Murray's accusations did not lead to any investigation by his employer, the FCO, and he resigned after disciplinary action was taken against him in 2004. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office itself is being investigated by the National Audit Office
National Audit Office (United Kingdom)
The National Audit Office is an independent Parliamentary body in the United Kingdom which is responsible for auditing central government departments, government agencies and non-departmental public bodies...

 because of accusations that it has victimized, bullied and intimidated its own staff.

Murray later stated that he felt that he had unwittingly stumbled upon what has been called "torture by proxy". He thought that Western countries moved people to regimes and nations where it was known that information would be extracted by torture, and made available to them.

Murray states that he was aware from August 2002 "that the CIA were bringing in detainees to Tashkent
Tashkent
Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan and of the Tashkent Province. The officially registered population of the city in 2008 was about 2.2 million. Unofficial sources estimate the actual population may be as much as 4.45 million.-Early Islamic History:...

 from Bagram airport Afghanistan
Bagram Air Base
Bagram Airfield, also referred to as Bagram Air Base, is a militarized airport and housing complex that is located next to the ancient city of Bagram, southeast of Charikar in Parwan province of Afghanistan. The base is run by a US Army division headed by a major general. A large part of the base,...

, who were handed over to the Uzbek security services (SNB). I presumed at the time that these were all Uzbek nationals — that may have been a false presumption. I knew that the CIA were obtaining intelligence from their subsequent interrogation by the SNB." He goes on to say that he did not know at the time that any non-Uzbek nationals were flown to Uzbekistan and although he has studied the reports by several journalists and finds their reports credible he is not a firsthand authority on this issue.
United States

As in the United Kingdom, US law prohibits using evidence obtained illegally or under duress in US courts. The United States includes protection against self-incrimination in the fifth amendment to its federal constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

, which in turn serves as the basis of the Miranda warning
Miranda warning
The Miranda warning is a warning given by police in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody before they are interrogated to preserve the admissibility of their statements against them in criminal proceedings. In Miranda v...

, which law enforcement officers issue to individuals upon their arrest. Additionally, the US Constitution's eighth amendment forbids the use of "cruel and unusual punishments," which is widely interpreted as prohibiting torture. Finally, 18 U.S.C. § 2340 et seq. define and forbid torture outside the United States.

In May 2008 Susan Crawford, the official overseeing prosecutions before Military Tribunals at Guantanamo, declined to refer for trial the case of Mohammed al-Qahtani because she said, "we tortured [him]". Crawford said that a combination of techniques with clear medical consequences amounted to the legal definition of torture, and that torture "tainted everything going forward."

In the 2010 New York trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani is a conspirator of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization convicted for his role in the bombing of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He was indicted in the United States as a participant in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings. He was on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list from its...

 who was accused of complicity in the bombing of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled evidence obtained under coercion inadmissible. The ruling excluded an important witness, whose name had been extracted from the defendant under duress. The jury acquitted him of 280 charges and convicted on only one charge of conspiracy.

Use of torture


"Recent times" in the context of this article is from 10 December 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

.

Torture perpetrators


By definition, torture 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. Those most likely to be involved in torture include persons such as:
  • prison officers/detention staff
  • the police
  • the military
  • paramilitary forces
  • state-controlled contra-guerilla forces


But perpetrators may also include:
  • health professionals
  • legal professionals
  • co-detainees acting with the approval or on the orders of public officials
  • death squads


In the context of armed conflicts, torture and other forms of ill-treatment could also be inflicted by:
  • opposition forces
  • the general population (in a civil war situation)

Torture by proxy


In 2003, Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

's Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

, Craig Murray
Craig Murray
Craig John Murray is a British political activist, former ambassador to Uzbekistan and former Rector of the University of Dundee....

, made accusations that information was being extracted under extreme torture from dissidents in that country, and that the information was subsequently being used by Western, democratic countries that officially disapproved of torture.

The accusations did not lead to any investigation by his employer, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, commonly called the Foreign Office or the FCO is a British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom overseas, created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.The head of the FCO is the...

, and he resigned after disciplinary action was taken against him in 2004. No misconduct by him was proven. The National Audit Office
National Audit Office (United Kingdom)
The National Audit Office is an independent Parliamentary body in the United Kingdom which is responsible for auditing central government departments, government agencies and non-departmental public bodies...

 is investigating the Foreign and Commonwealth Office because of accusations of victimisation
Victimisation
Victimisation is the process of being victimised or becoming a victim. Research that studies the process, rates, incidence, and prevalence of victimization falls under the body of victimology.-Peer victimisation:...

, bullying, and intimidating its own staff.

Murray later stated that he felt that he had unwittingly stumbled upon what others called "torture by proxy" and with the euphemism of "extraordinary rendition
Extraordinary rendition
Extraordinary rendition is the abduction and illegal transfer of a person from one nation to another. "Torture by proxy" is used by some critics to describe situations in which the United States and the United Kingdom have transferred suspected terrorists to other countries in order to torture the...

". He thought that Western countries moved people to regimes and nations knowing that torturers would extract and disclose information. Murray alleged that this practice circumvented and violated international treaties against torture. If a country participated in torture by proxy and had signed the UN Convention Against Torture, that country would be in specific breach of Article 3 of that convention.

Ethical arguments regarding torture


Torture has been criticized on humanitarian and moral grounds, on the grounds that evidence extracted by torture is unreliable, and because torture corrupts institutions that tolerate it.

Organizations like Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 argue that the universal legal prohibition is based on a universal philosophical consensus that torture and ill-treatment are repugnant, abhorrent, and immoral. But since shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

 there has been a debate in the United States about whether torture is justified in some circumstances. Some people, such as Alan M. Dershowitz  and Mirko Bagaric, have argued the need for information outweighs the moral and ethical arguments against torture. However, after coercive practices were banned, interrogators in Iraq saw an increase of 50 percent more high-value intelligence. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, the American commander in charge of detentions and interrogations, stated "a rapport-based interrogation that recognizes respect and dignity, and having very well-trained interrogators, is the basis by which you develop intelligence rapidly and increase the validity of that intelligence." Others including Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller
Robert Swan Mueller III is the 6th and current Director of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation .-Early life:...

, FBI Director since July 5, 2001, have pointed out that despite former Bush Administration claims that waterboarding
Waterboarding
Waterboarding is a form of torture in which water is poured over the face of an immobilized captive, thus causing the individual to experience the sensation of drowning...

 has "disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks", they do not believe that evidence gained by the U.S. government through what supporters of the techniques call "enhanced interrogation" has disrupted a single attack and no one has come up with a documented example of lives saved thanks to these techniques. On June 19, 2009, the US government announced that it was delaying the scheduled release of declassified portions of a report by the CIA Inspector General that reportedly cast doubt on the effectiveness of the "enhanced interrogation" techniques employed by CIA interrogators, according to references to the report contained in several Bush-era Justice Department memos declassified in the Spring of 2009 by the US Justice Department.

The ticking time bomb scenario
Ticking time bomb scenario
The ticking time bomb scenario is a thought experiment that has been used in the ethics debate over whether torture can ever be justified.Simply stated, the consequentialist argument is that nations, even those such as the United States that legally disallow torture, can justify its use if they...

, a thought experiment
Thought experiment
A thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment considers some hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences...

, asks what to do to a captured terrorist who has placed a nuclear time bomb
Time bomb
A time bomb is a bomb whose detonation is triggered by a timer. The use time bombs has been for various purposes ranging from insurance fraud to warfare to assassination; however, the most common use has been for politically-motivated terrorism.-Construction:The explosive charge is the main...

 in a populated area. If the terrorist is tortured, he may explain how to defuse the bomb. The scenario asks if it is ethical to torture the terrorist. A 2006 BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 poll held in 25 nations gauged support for each of the following positions:
  • Terrorists pose such an extreme threat that governments should be allowed to use some degree of torture if it may gain information that saves innocent lives.
  • Clear rules against torture should be maintained because any use of torture is immoral and will weaken international human rights.

An average of 59% of people worldwide rejected torture. However there was a clear divide between those countries with strong rejection of torture (such as Italy, where only 14% supported torture) and nations where rejection was less strong. Often this lessened rejection is found in countries severely and frequently threatened by terrorist attacks. E.g., Israel, despite its Supreme Court outlawing torture in 1999, showed 43% supporting torture, but 48% opposing, India showed 37% supporting torture and only 23% opposing.

Within nations there is a clear divide between the positions of members of different ethnic groups, religions, and political affiliations, sometimes reflecting distinctions between groups considering themselves threatened or victimized by terror acts and those from the alleged perpetrator groups. For example, the study found that among Jews in Israel 53% favored some degree of torture and only 39% wanted strong rules against torture while Muslims in Israel were overwhelmingly against any use of torture, unlike Muslims polled elsewhere. Differences in general political views also can matter. In one 2006 survey by the Scripps Center at Ohio University, 66% of Americans who identified themselves as strongly Republican supported torture, whereas 24% of those who identified themselves as strongly Democratic. In a 2005 U.S. survey 72% of American Catholics supported the use of torture in some circumstances compared to 51% of American secularists. A Pew survey in 2009 similarly found that the religiously unaffiliated are the least likely (40 percent) to support torture, and that the more a person claims to attend church, the more likely he or she is to condone torture; among racial/religious groups, white evangelical Protestants were far and away the most likely (62 percent) to support inflicting pain as a tool of interrogation.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll "found that sizable majorities of Americans disagree with tactics ranging from leaving prisoners naked and chained in uncomfortable positions for hours, to trying to make a prisoner think he was being drowned".

There are also different attitudes as to what constitutes torture, as revealed in an ABC News/Washington Post poll, where more than half of the Americans polled thought that techniques such as sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation is the condition of not having enough sleep; it can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain. It adversely affects the brain and cognitive function. Few studies have compared the...

 were not torture.

In practice, so-called "enhanced interrogation" techniques were employed by the CIA in situations that did not involve the "ticking time bomb" scenario that has been the subject of opinion polls and public debate. In April 2009 a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist stated that the Bush administration applied pressure on interrogators to use the "enhanced interrogation" techniques on detainees to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime. The purported link between al Qaida and Hussein's regime, which has been disproven, was a key political justification for the Iraq War. On May 13, 2009, former NBC News investigative producer Robert Windrem reported, as confirmed by former Iraq Survey Group leader Charles Duelfer, that the Vice President's Office suggested that an interrogation team led by Duelfer waterboard an Iraqi prisoner suspected of knowing about a relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam.

On February 14, 2010, in an appearance on ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

's This Week
This Week (ABC TV series)
This Week is ABC's Sunday morning political affairs program.The Sunday morning talk show has aired on Sunday mornings on ABC since 1981; the program is initially aired at 9:00 AM ET, although many stations air the program later, especially those in other time zones...

, Vice-President Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

 reiterated his support of waterboarding
Waterboarding
Waterboarding is a form of torture in which water is poured over the face of an immobilized captive, thus causing the individual to experience the sensation of drowning...

 and "enhanced interrogation" techniques for captured terrorist suspects, saying, "I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program."

Pressed by the BBC in 2010 on his personal view of waterboarding, Presidential Advisor Karl Rove
Karl Rove
Karl Christian Rove was Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to former President George W. Bush until Rove's resignation on August 31, 2007. He has headed the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Public Liaison, and the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives...

 said: "I'm proud that we kept the world safer than it was, by the use of these techniques. They’re appropriate, they're in conformity with our international requirements and with US law."

Utilitarian arguments against torture


There is a strong utilitarian argument against torture; namely, that there is simply no scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness.

The lack of scientific basis for the effectiveness of torture as an interrogation techniques is summarized in a 2006 Intelligence Science Board report titled "EDUCING INFORMATION, Interrogation: Science and Art, Foundations for the Future".

Those favoring torture have however pointed to some specific cases where torture has elicited true information.

Rejection of torture


A famous example of rejection of the use of torture was cited by the Argentine National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons in whose report, Italian general Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa
Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa
Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa was a general of the Italian carabinieri notable for campaigning against terrorism during the 1970s in Italy, and later assassinated by the Mafia in Palermo.-Biography:...

 was reputed to have said in connection with the investigation of the disappearance of prime minister Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro was an Italian politician and the 39th Prime Minister of Italy, from 1963 to 1968, and then from 1974 to 1976. He was one of Italy's longest-serving post-war Prime Ministers, holding power for a combined total of more than six years....

, "Italy can survive the loss of Aldo Moro. It would not survive the introduction of torture."

Incrimination of innocent people


One well documented effect of torture is that its victims will say or do anything to escape the situation, including untrue "confessions" and implication of others without genuine knowledge, who may well then be tortured in turn. That information may have been extracted from the Birmingham Six
Birmingham Six
The Birmingham Six were six men—Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Joseph Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker—sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975 in the United Kingdom for the Birmingham pub bombings. Their convictions were declared unsafe and quashed by the Court of...

 through the use of police beatings was counterproductive because it made the convictions unsound as the confessions were worthless. There are rare exceptions, such as Admiral James Stockdale
James Stockdale
Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale was one of the most highly decorated officers in the history of the United States Navy.Stockdale led aerial attacks from the carrier during the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident...

, Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

 recipient, who refused to provide information under torture.

Secrecy


Before the emergence of modern policing, torture was an important aspect of policing and the use of it was openly sanctioned and acknowledged by the authority. The Economist magazine proposed that one of the reasons torture endures is that torture does indeed work in some instances to extract information/confession, if those who are being tortured are indeed guilty.
Depending on the culture, torture has at times been carried on in silence (official denial), semi-silence (known but not spoken about), or openly acknowledged in public (to instill fear and obedience).

In the 21st century, even when states sanction their interrogation methods, torturers often work outside the law. For this reason, some prefer methods that, while unpleasant, leave victims alive and unmarked. A victim with no visible damage may lack credibility when telling tales of torture, whereas a person missing fingernails or eyes can easily prove claims of torture. Mental torture, however can leave scars just as deep and long-lasting as physical torture. Professional torturers in some countries have used techniques such as electrical shock, asphyxiation, heat, cold, noise, and sleep deprivation, which leave little evidence, although in other contexts torture frequently results in horrific mutilation or death. However the most common and prevalent form of torture worldwide in both developed and under-developed countries is beating.

Torture methods and devices




Physical torture methods have been used throughout recorded history and can range from a beating with nothing more than fist and boot, through to the use of sophisticated custom designed devices such as the rack. Remarkable ingenuity has been shown in the invention of instruments and techniques of physical torture, exploiting medical knowledge of the vulnerabilities of the human body (e.g., the sensitivity of the nail beds to pressure, or of the soles of the feet to heat). Other types of torture can include sensory
Sensory deprivation
Sensory deprivation or perceptual isolation is the deliberate reduction or removal of stimuli from one or more of the senses. Simple devices such as blindfolds or hoods and earmuffs can cut off sight and hearing respectively, while more complex devices can also cut off the sense of smell, touch,...

 or sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation is the condition of not having enough sleep; it can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain. It adversely affects the brain and cognitive function. Few studies have compared the...

, restraint or being held in awkward or damaging positions, uncomfortable extremes of heat and cold, loud noises or any other means that inflicts severe physical or mental pain. The boundary between torture and legitimate interrogation techniques is not universally agreed. In a separate opinion, at the end of the 1978 in the European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...

 (ECHR) trial "Ireland v. the United Kingdom" (Case No. 5310/71), Judge Zekia stated that "It seems to me permissible, in ascertaining whether torture or inhuman treatment has been committed or not, to apply not only the objective test but also the subjective test. As an example I can refer to the case of an elderly sick man who is exposed to a harsh treatment—after being given several blows and beaten to the floor, he is dragged and kicked on the floor for several hours. I would say without hesitation that the poor man has been tortured. If such treatment is applied on a wrestler or even a young athlete, I would hesitate a lot to describe it as an inhuman treatment and I might regard it as a mere rough handling".

Psychological torture uses non-physical methods that cause psychological suffering
Suffering
Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, is an individual's basic affective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm. Suffering may be qualified as physical or mental. It may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable. Factors of duration and...

. Its effects are not immediately apparent unless they alter the behavior
Behavior
Behavior or behaviour refers to the actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with its environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment...

 of the tortured person. Since there is no international political consensus on what constitutes psychological torture, it is often overlooked, denied, and referred to by different names.

Psychological torture is less well known than physical torture and tends to be subtle and much easier to conceal. In practice the distinctions between physical and psychological torture are often blurred. Physical torture is the inflicting of severe pain or suffering on a person. In contrast, psychological torture is directed at the psyche with calculated violations of psychological needs, along with deep damage to psychological structures and the breakage of beliefs underpinning normal sanity
Sanity
Sanity refers to the soundness, rationality and healthiness of the human mind, as opposed to insanity. A person is sane if they are rational...

. Torturers often inflict both types of torture in combination to compound the associated effects.

Psychological torture also includes deliberate use of extreme stressors and situations such as mock execution
Mock execution
A mock execution is a stratagem in which a victim is deliberately but falsely made to feel that his execution or that of another person is imminent or is taking place. It may be staged for an audience or a subject who is made to believe that he is being led to his own execution...

, shunning
Shunning
Shunning can be the act of social rejection, or mental rejection. Social rejection is when a person or group deliberately avoids association with, and habitually keeps away from an individual or group. This can be a formal decision by a group, or a less formal group action which will spread to all...

, violation of deep-seated social or sexual norm
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

s and taboo
Taboo
A taboo is a strong social prohibition relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs and or scientific consensus. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society...

s, or extended solitary confinement
Solitary confinement
Solitary confinement is a special form of imprisonment in which a prisoner is isolated from any human contact, though often with the exception of members of prison staff. It is sometimes employed as a form of punishment beyond incarceration for a prisoner, and has been cited as an additional...

. Because psychological torture needs no physical violence to be effective, it is possible to induce severe psychological pain, suffering, and trauma
Psychological trauma
Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a traumatic event...

 with no externally visible effects.

Rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 and other forms of sexual abuse
Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. When that force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or molester...

 are often used as methods of torture for interrogative or punitive purposes.

In medical torture
Medical torture
Medical torture describes the involvement and sometimes active participation of medical professionals in acts of torture, either to judge what victims can endure, to apply treatments which will enhance torture, or as torturers in their own right...

, medical practitioners use torture to judge what victims can endure, to apply treatments that enhance torture, or act as torturers in their own right. Josef Mengele
Josef Mengele
Josef Rudolf Mengele , also known as the Angel of Death was a German SS officer and a physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He earned doctorates in anthropology from Munich University and in medicine from Frankfurt University...

 and Shirō Ishii
Shiro Ishii
was a Japanese microbiologist and the lieutenant general of Unit 731, a biological warfare unit of the Imperial Japanese Army responsible for human experimentation and war crimes during the Second Sino-Japanese War.-Early years:...

 were infamous during and after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 for their involvement in medical torture and murder.

Pharmacological torture is the use of drugs to produce psychological or physical pain or discomfort.

Tickle torture
Tickle torture
Tickle torture is the use of tickling to abuse, dominate, humiliate or even "prank" someone. The victim laughs even if he or she finds the experience unpleasant because the laughter is an innate reflex rather than social conditioning...

 is an unusual form of torture which nevertheless has been documented, and can be both physically and psychologically painful.

Torture murder



Torture murder involves torture to the point of murder as for punishment in law enforcement agencies
Law enforcement agency
In North American English, a law enforcement agency is a government agency responsible for the enforcement of the laws.Outside North America, such organizations are called police services. In North America, some of these services are called police while others have other names In North American...

 of countries that allow torture. Murderers might also torture their victims to death for sadistic reasons.

Effects of torture


The consequences of torture reach far beyond immediate pain. Many victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Posttraumaticstress disorder is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity,...

 (PTSD), which includes symptoms such as flashbacks (or intrusive thoughts), severe anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, depression and memory lapses. Torture victims often feel guilt and shame, triggered by the humiliation they have endured. Many feel that they have betrayed themselves or their friends and family. All such symptoms are normal human responses to abnormal and inhuman treatment.

Organizations like the Freedom from Torture and the Center for Victims of Torture
Center for Victims of Torture
The Center for Victims of Torture is a private, non-profit organization headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota that provides victims of politically motivated torture with medical, psychological, and social services both in the Twin Cities and abroad....

 try to help survivors of torture obtain medical treatment and to gain forensic medical evidence
Evidence (law)
The law of evidence encompasses the rules and legal principles that govern the proof of facts in a legal proceeding. These rules determine what evidence can be considered by the trier of fact in reaching its decision and, sometimes, the weight that may be given to that evidence...

 to obtain political asylum
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

 in a safe country and/or to prosecute the perpetrators.

Torture is often difficult to prove, particularly when some time has passed between the event and a medical examination, or when the torturers are immune from prosecution. Many torturers around the world use methods designed to have a maximum psychological impact while leaving only minimal physical traces. Medical and Human Rights Organizations worldwide have collaborated to produce the Istanbul Protocol
Istanbul Protocol
The Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, commonly known as the Istanbul Protocol, is the first set of international guidelines for documentation of torture and its consequences...

, a document designed to outline common torture methods, consequences of torture, and medico-legal examination techniques. Typically deaths due to torture are shown in an autopsy as being due to "natural causes" like heart attack, inflammation, or embolism due to extreme stress
Stress (medicine)
Stress is a term in psychology and biology, borrowed from physics and engineering and first used in the biological context in the 1930s, which has in more recent decades become commonly used in popular parlance...

.

For survivors, torture often leads to lasting mental
Mental health
Mental health describes either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. From perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and procure a balance between life activities and...

 and physical health problems.

Physical problems can be wide-ranging, e.g. sexually transmitted diseases, musculo-skeletal problems, brain injury
Traumatic brain injury
Traumatic brain injury , also known as intracranial injury, occurs when an external force traumatically injures the brain. TBI can be classified based on severity, mechanism , or other features...

, post-traumatic epilepsy
Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or hypersynchronous neuronal activity in the brain.About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and nearly two out of every three new cases...

 and dementia
Dementia
Dementia is a serious loss of cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected from normal aging...

 or chronic pain syndromes.

Mental health problems are equally wide-ranging; common are post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Posttraumaticstress disorder is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity,...

, depression
Clinical depression
Major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities...

 and anxiety disorder
Anxiety disorder
Anxiety disorder is a blanket term covering several different forms of abnormal and pathological fear and anxiety. Conditions now considered anxiety disorders only came under the aegis of psychiatry at the end of the 19th century. Gelder, Mayou & Geddes explains that anxiety disorders are...

.
Psychic deadness, erasure of intersubjectivity
Intersubjectivity
Intersubjectivity is a term used in philosophy, psychology, sociology and anthropology to describe a condition somewhere between subjectivity and objectivity, one in which a phenomenon is personally experienced but by more than one subject....

, refusal of meaning-making, perversion of agency, and an inability to bear desire constitute the core features of the post-traumatic psychic landscape of torture.
On August 19, 2007, the American Psychology Association (APA) voted to bar participation, to intervene to stop, and to report involvement in a wide variety of interrogation techniques as torture, including "using mock execution
Mock execution
A mock execution is a stratagem in which a victim is deliberately but falsely made to feel that his execution or that of another person is imminent or is taking place. It may be staged for an audience or a subject who is made to believe that he is being led to his own execution...

s, simulated drowning, sexual and religious humiliation, stress positions or sleep deprivation", as well as "the exploitation of prisoners' phobias, the use of mind-altering drugs, hooding
Hooding
Hooding is the placing of a hood over the entire head of a prisoner. One legal scholar considers the hooding of prisoners to be a violation of international law, specifically the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, which demand that persons in the power of occupying forces be treated humanely....

, forced nakedness, the use of dogs to frighten detainees, exposing prisoners to extreme heat and cold, physical assault and threatening the use of such techniques against a prisoner or a prisoner's family."

However, the APA rejected a stronger resolution that sought to prohibit “all psychologist involvement, either direct or indirect, in any interrogations at U.S. detention centers for foreign detainees or citizens detained outside normal legal channels.” That resolution would have placed the APA alongside the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association in limiting professional involvement in such settings to direct patient care. The APA echoed the Bush administration by condemning isolation, sleep deprivation, and sensory deprivation or over-stimulation only when they are likely to cause lasting harm.

Psychiatric treatment of torture-related medical problems might require a wide range of expertise and often specialized experience. Common treatments are psychotropic medication
Medication
A pharmaceutical drug, also referred to as medicine, medication or medicament, can be loosely defined as any chemical substance intended for use in the medical diagnosis, cure, treatment, or prevention of disease.- Classification :...

, e.g. SSRI
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors or serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor are a class of compounds typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and some personality disorders. The efficacy of SSRIs is disputed...

 antidepressants, counseling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, family systems therapy and physiotherapy.
See Psychology of torture
Psychology of torture
Torture, whether physical or psychological or both, depends on complicated interpersonal relationships between those who torture, those tortured, bystanders and others. Torture also involves deeply personal processes in those tortured, in those who torture and in others...

 for psychological impact, and aftermath, of torture.

Rehabilitation


The aim of rehabilitation is to empower the torture victim to resume as full a life as possible. Rebuilding the life of someone whose dignity has been destroyed takes time and as a result long-term material, medical, psychological and social support is needed.

Treatment must be a coordinated effort that covers both physical and psychological aspects. It is important to take into consideration the patients' needs, problems, expectations, views and cultural references.

The consequences of torture are likely to be influenced by many internal and external factors. Therefore, rehabilitation needs to employ different treatment approaches, taking into account the victims' individual needs, as well as the cultural, social and political environment.

Rehabilitation centres around the world, notably the members of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims , is an independent, international health professional organisation that promotes and supports the rehabilitation of torture victims and works for the prevention of torture worldwide....

, commonly offer multi-disciplinary support and counselling, including:
  • medical attention / psychotherapeutic treatment
  • psychosocial support / trauma treatment
  • legal services and redress
  • social reintegration.

In the case of asylum seekers and refugees, the services also may include assisting in documentation of torture for the asylum decision, language classes and help in finding somewhere to live and work.

Rehabilitation of secondary survivors


In the worst case, torture can affect several generations. The physical and mental after-effects of torture often place great strain on the entire family and society. Children are particularly vulnerable. They often suffer from feelings of guilt or personal responsibility for what has happened. Therefore, other members of the survivor’s family – in particular the spouse and children – are also offered treatment and counselling.

Broken societies


In some instances, whole societies can be more or less traumatized where torture has been used in a systematic and widespread manner. In general, after years of repression, conflict and war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

, regular support networks and structures have often been broken or destroyed.

Providing psychosocial support
Peer support
Peer support occurs when people provide knowledge, experience, emotional, social or practical help to each other. It commonly refers to an initiative consisting of trained supporters, and can take a number of forms such as peer mentoring, listening, or counseling...

 and redress
Redress
In film, a redress is the redecoration of an existing movie set, so that it can double for another set. This saves the trouble and expenses of constructing a second, new set, though they face the difficulty of doing it so the average viewer does not notice the same set is reused...

 to survivors of torture and trauma can help reconstruct broken societies. Rehabilitation centres therefore play a key role in promoting democracy, co-existence and respect for human rights. They provide support and hope, and act as a symbol of triumph over the manmade terror of torture which can hold back the development of democracy of entire societies.

See also

  • Civil rights
    Civil rights
    Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

  • Death by a Thousand Cuts
    Death by a Thousand Cuts (book)
    Death by a Thousand Cuts is a book by the historians Timothy Brook and Gregory Blue and scientific researcher Jérôme Bourgon which examines the use of slow slicing or lingchi, a form of torture and capital punishment practised in mid- and late-Imperial China from the tenth century until its...

  • Enhanced interrogation techniques
    Enhanced interrogation techniques
    Enhanced interrogation techniques or alternative set of procedures are terms adopted by the George W. Bush administration in the United States to describe certain severe interrogation methods, often described as torture...

  • International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
    International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
    The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims , is an independent, international health professional organisation that promotes and supports the rehabilitation of torture victims and works for the prevention of torture worldwide....

  • Physicians for Human Rights
    Physicians for Human Rights
    Physicians for Human Rights was founded in 1986 by a small group of doctors who believed the unique scientific expertise and authority of health professionals could bring human rights violations to light and provide justice for victims...

  • Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims
    Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims
    The Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims is a self-governing institution independent of party politics located in Denmark...

  • Torture trade
    Torture trade
    In 2001, Amnesty International released the report "Stopping the Torture Trade." The term torture trade refers to the manufacture, marketing, and export of tools commonly used for torture, like restraints and high-voltage electro-shock weapons....

  • Torture (journal)
    Torture (journal)
    Torture is a peer-reviewed medical journal on rehabilitation of torture victims and prevention of torture, published by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, indexed in MEDLINE....

  • UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
    International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
    The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture – 26 June is held annually on 26 June to speak out against the crime of torture and to honour and support victims and survivors throughout the world.- History :...

  • World Organisation Against Torture
    World Organisation Against Torture
    The World Organisation Against Torture is the world’s largest coalition of non-governmental organisations fighting against arbitrary detention, torture, summary and extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances and other forms of violence...

  • Human Rights
    Human rights
    Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

  • Political violence
    Political violence
    Political violence is a common means used by people and governments around the world to achieve political goals. Many groups and individuals believe that their political systems will never respond to their political demands. As a result they believe that violence is not only justified but also...

  • Genocide
    Genocide
    Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

  • Counter-insurgency
    Counter-insurgency
    A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency involves actions taken by the recognized government of a nation to contain or quell an insurgency taken up against it...

  • Capital Punishment
    Capital punishment
    Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

  • War
    War
    War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

  • Famine
    Famine
    A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

  • Police Brutality
    Police brutality
    Police brutality is the intentional use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially also in the form of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer....


Further reading

  • Parry, John T. (2010). Understanding Torture: Law, Violence, and Political Identity. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press
    University of Michigan Press
    The University of Michigan Press is part of the University of Michigan Library and serves as a primary publishing unit of the University of Michigan, with special responsibility for the creation and promotion of scholarly, educational, and regional books and other materials in digital and print...

    . ISBN 978-0-472-05077-2.
  • Reddy, Peter (2010). Torture: What You Need to Know, Ginninderra Press, Canberra, Australia. ISBN 1-74027-322-22010

External links