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Torture is Torture

Greenwald: Let me ask you this question: The United States is a party to a treaty – I don’t know if you ever read it or not, it’s called the Convention Against Torture – and one of the things it does is it obligates all signatories to the treaty to prosecute any acts of torture.

…Complete text of the Convention Against Torture is here , the Wikipedia entry says: Article 1 of the Convention defines torture as: Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

As part of an instructive and interesting conversation between pro-torture NBC journalist Chuck Todd1 and Salon’s Glenn Greenwald

Greenwald: Let me ask you this question: The United States is a party to a treaty – I don’t know if you ever read it or not, it’s called the Convention Against Torture – and one of the things it does is it obligates all signatories to the treaty to prosecute any acts of torture. And it was signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988, and when he transmitted that treaty to the Senate, explaining what that treaty does, he wrote, quote, “Each state party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory, or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.”

Do you think the U.S. should be bound, is bound by that treaty?

[Click to continue reading Salon Radio: Chuck Todd – Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com]

The audio file of the interview is also available here.

Complete text of the Convention Against Torture is here, the Wikipedia entry says:

Article 1 of the Convention defines torture as:
Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
– Convention Against Torture, Article 1.1

Actions which fall short of torture may still constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under Article 16.

Article 2 of the convention prohibits torture, and requires parties to take effective measures to prevent it in any territory under its jurisdiction. This prohibition is absolute and non-derogable. “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever” may be invoked to justify torture, including war, threat of war, internal political instability, public emergency, terrorist acts, violent crime, or any form of armed conflict. Torture cannot be justified as a means to protect public safety or prevent emergencies. Neither can it be justified by orders from superior officers or public officials. The prohibition on torture applies to all territories under a party’s effective jurisdiction, and protects all people under its effective control, regardless of citizenship or how that control is exercised. Since the Conventions entry into force, this absolute prohibition has become accepted as a principle of customary international law.

Because it is often difficult to distinguish between cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and torture, the Committee regards Article 16’s prohibition of such treatment as similarly absolute and non-derogable.
The other articles of part I lay out specific obligations intended to implement this absolute prohibition by preventing, investigating and punishing acts of torture.

[Click to continue reading United Nations Convention Against Torture – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

Footnotes:
  1. no, not really, I suppose the more precise term would be that Chuck Todd doesn’t believe in prosecuting Republican administration crimes that occurred last week, only prosecuting future crimes []

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