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On the question of torture in war, opinions are mixed. There are several points of view from which to argue. Some will defend the tactic, claiming that by inflicting trauma on the perpetrators, they will reveal evidence required by the police to help investigations. Some would claim that torture is a breach of human rights if it is not uniformly enforced and that every person has a right to be free of the suffering of any sort. This paper's position is to attempt to view the true understanding of torture in conflict and instill viewpoints on the subject within them. In this context, torture is going to be discussed within the context of military operations in war zones and not torture in the context of political disorders or ethnic crashes.
Many wonder if it feels enchanting for the military to torture subjects in war tone regions or within the cells in pursuit of information. The preceding issue lingers in the minds of many. What motivates positive perceptions can be equally relevant as what drives the negative opinions. During a convention, the United Nations institutionalized a chapter that illegalizes any torture practiced on individuals for whatever reason. It abrogated any form of torture on a human being- not mental or physical torture. Thus, it is tandem with most countries' legislation that aims at immunizing against brutality by men with guns and other heavy weaponry. There are countries which have not embraced such law, and thus they are sponsoring the kind of torture defined by Weinstein and Dansky that involves brutal human affliction in countries characterized by political repressions or state-sponsored terrorism. They further describe torture to be either physical or psychological. For the states supporting torture, they have an avalanche of reasons to support their proposition. Some of the reasons they cite for the perpetuation of torture is for extraction of information, scaring criminals. But, a close look will bring out other issues altogether. Weinstein and Dansky some “state-sponsored” torture is aimed at intimidation coercion to obey a particular political system and to kill a specific religion (112-113).
To delve deeper, it shall look at more definitive propositions of torture. One of most recent incidences of torture that are worth reflecting on as far as torture stretches is what was proposed in America after Al-Qaeda threats. After the attack on the WTC, USA took their war to Iraq in pursuit of terrorists. During the war, torture was used in intense amounts. When the issue raised eyebrows, the Justice Department issued a memo that provides more insight into the country’s view on torture at the time. In their review of the memo, Diana Priest and Jeffrey Smith assert that the,“Justice Department advised the White House that those who were torturing terrorists abroad” were “justified” (1). They further stated that the United Nations Laws against torture -that are binding to all nations- could not be applied in the cases of interrogations (1).
In retrospect, Allex Bellamy’s view that there should be a provision of other ways of dealing with criminal suspects while taking care of their rights is palatable (121). The above view is not motivated by a belief that may be deemed to support terrorism or its proponents; itsaim is to entrench respect for human rights and to build a society that will remain peaceful after war. Another thought of it could be ensuring that the war do not leave indelible marks in the lives of people. Torture leaves people with long term effects and thus they live in denial; they sometimes suffer terminal diseases that result from the pain they suffer.
What, perhaps, is worth considering is a case when a suspect is arrested or his friend. If torture is employed on the suspect, then justice will not have been done to him/ her. Catching a suspect somewhat distinct from ascertaining that he/ she is guilty. It’d be advisable to treat a suspect in a friendly manner avoiding torture completely so as to get information. The preceding is considerable because a suspect is could be an innocent person. During war, military catch people who they suspect of being compatriots of their targets and thus they torture them to extricate information from them. The preceding is perhaps so preliminary in dealing with war related investigations and interrogations. Most people who get tortured during war emerge to be innocent. They thus lead shattered lives after war. Paker et al. discusses effect of torture on innocent people after war and establishes that torture causes severe damage to individuals long after the incident (81). Their study somewhat implies that after torture, victims do not have opportunity to lead a peaceful life any more. It, therefore, would be more meaningful if the military abrogated torture and embraced alternative way of carrying out military operations during war.
Most disturbing reality than just torturing suspects is the fact that most people who fall into the hands of the police are the disadvantaged groups. For instance, women and children emerge to be most affected. Quite often, the targeted criminals are not reached. To track them, investigators and interrogators use the preceding groups to extort information from them. What is quite hard to accommodate is that in most cases women are raped, children are beaten to just say anything. After doing this, the victims remain frustrated and utterly traumatized to even points of dead. Physical torture is like treating an injury with a hot needle. The preceding follows because war itself causes mental torture. Tiner Sideris, as she discusses the impact of war on Mozambican women, gives an avalanche of mental torture on women and she implies they suffer the most. Torturing them physically may lead to unthinkable results (715). Torturing subjects them to traumatizing experiences that may commensurate to the one they suffer in the hands of criminals. Some are driven by the natural feeling that something used to work out this way, so they try it on their victims. Torture should thus be criminalized.
Around the world, torture has become the only way information gets extricated from people. More than the preceding, it has emerged that people in the war zones and those who witness their friends or relatives abused are transitively tortured as well. Unsworth and Goldernberg in their study on “psychological squeal of torture and organized violencesuffered by peoplefrom Iraq”(1) after war note that even those people who suffer the effects of heavy weaponry in use during a war are also “victims of torture” (91). If this emerging definition of torture is what to go by, then so many people in the world are susceptible to torture. In numerous parts of the world, there is bombing everywhere as war has become so rampant these days. In areas where pregnant women are hospitalized, premature births will be experienced, and in general, there will be more casualties of torture than reported. This leads Ahcene Boulesbaa to remark that setting standards is not enough. The United Nations should be keen to ensure that the measures it sets are implemented (xiv). Commitment to assuring the public of their safety during war should be focused on abrogating employment of torture. The UN and other humanitarian bodies shall also be keen to ensure that all countries depart from practicing torture during war. By so doing, human suffering resulting from many incidences of torture experienced in the world will dwindle.
Incidentally, even criminals have rights. Subjecting them to severe torture during war is not humanitarian. In most cases, criminals are tortured to the bone. Others become disabled and others are left to die in cells. The definition of torture as explained by Ahcene Boulesbaa encompasses many unspeakable practices. The preceding includes any act that may lead to any “kind of suffering, whether physical or mental on a person” (4) to extort any information pertaining anything from him or her. While it may be perceived to be necessary as far as affording torture may result in building a more shattered world. Terrorists have copied the practice. They snatch people into their hideouts and torture them because they believe that their colleagues arrested could be repeatedly tortured in cells. Anyone can fall victim to torture if left to exist into the future. Its impacts may be more intensive going into the future. The principle of life is clear, and it will reverberate through the ages: do unto others what you would have them do for you. Effort should be concentrated therefore on abolishing use of torture during war. Those who have been victims of the torture need to be assured that what led them into the state of psychological or physical torment they are experiencing is not inexistence. It will be easy to predict therefore, that at some point in the future, there shall not exist any victims of torture during war. The assurance will culminate in a society led by principles focused on entrenching human dignity.
Bellamy, Alex. No Pain, No Gain? Torture and Ethics in the War on Terror. Oxford University Press, 2006.
Boulesbaa, Ahcene. The UN Convention on Torture and the Prospects for Enforcement. Hague: Martinas Nuhoff Publishers, 1999.
Harvey M. Weinstein, Laura Dansky. “Torture and War Trauma Survivors in Primary Care Practice”. WJM, vol.165, no. 3, 1996.
Metin Basoglu Paker et al. “Psychological Effects of Torture: A Comparison of Tortured With Nontortured Political Activists in Turkey.” Am J Psychiatry, no. 151:1, 1994.
Priest Dana and Smith R. Jeffrey. “Memo Offered Justification for the use of Torture.” Washington Post Staff Writers, 2004, page A01.
Sideris, Tina. “War, Gender, and Culture: Mozambican Women Refugees.” Social Science & Medicine, no. 56, 2003, pp. 713–724.
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