Hollywood movies usually show villains, terrorists, and criminals as totally corrupt and negative characters, where main protagonists usually murder “in the name of justice.” Perhaps, considering the amount of damage a victim (or their relatives) might have suffered from hostile actions, simply placing an offender under custody (with further imprisonment) does not look an adequate penalty in a number of cases. In connection to this, some people raise questions about the expediency of using the death penalty or torture as a punishment for severe crimes. And while capital punishment is a norm in a number of American states (as well as in countries around the world), the propriety of tortures is a much more debated question.
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Today, torture is rightly seen as a medieval and inhumane way of treating a human being, regardless of its origin, social status, or any crimes committed. A number of influential treaties prohibit the use of torture. For example, article 3:1(a) of the Geneva Conventions restrict the use of “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” (Securing Liberty). Article 5 of The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights claims that, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The same message is declared in The United Nations Convention Against Torture, and the Rome Stature of the International Criminal Court. Therefore, on a legislative level, the use of torture is not acceptable.
One of the basic factors of citizens’ trust in the country they live is their confidence in the fairness of the judicial system, which guarantees the propriety of crime and punishment (Koen). In the United States, for example, it is guaranteed by the 8th Amendment of the Constitution. However, accepting torture as, for example, a method of interrogation, means citizens can no longer feel safe if they have to deal with justice, even (and especially) if they are innocent. In this case, an investigative error and the following suspicion of an innocent person can result into the application of severe psychological and physical damage to this individual before their innocence becomes evident. Respectively, to stop the torture, the innocent victim will eagerly invent any ‘evidence’ their interrogators require.
Proponents of torture, who insist on the propriety of the use of torture in “special cases”—for example, against serial killers, or terrorists—possibly are not aware of torture gradually becoming a normalized practice; Amnesty International uses the term “torture culture,” and claims it emerges across the chain of command (Amnesty TV). Thus, Pakistan\Bosnian insurgent and terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times during his interrogation by the CIA; in an Iraqi prison, Abu Ghraib, low-ranking soldiers were tortured in grotesque ways for sport. Examples are numerous, but they illustrate one fact: if torture is accepted even for “special occasions,” it gradually becomes a normal practice.
Torture in the modern world is a relic of the distant past. Though there are many proponents, claiming that torture is acceptable in a number of certain cases—such as against terrorists or maniacs—I believe they should not be tolerated due to several reasons. Torture is illegal: international laws prohibit the use of torture against anybody. The country that approves torture also risks to lose the trust of its citizens in itself and its judicial system. In addition, torture that is officially approved at least once tends to become a regular practice. There is no such thing as a “special occasion” when it comes to torturing.
“Torture is Just Means of Preventing Terrorism.” Securing Liberty. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://securingliberty.idebate.org/arguments/torture>.
Koen, Yitzhak. “Dangers of ‘Just Once’ Tortures Application.” International Laws in Action. N.p., 11 Mar. 2010. Web. 26 Nov. 2013.
“5 Arguments Against Torture.” Amnesty TV. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013. <http://tv.amnesty.org.uk/2011/07/28/5-arguments-torture/>.
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