Modern Torture Essay, Research Paper
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 states in Article 5 that “No one shall be subjected to torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Yet, almost fifty years after the declaration, physical and psychological abuse of men, women, and children around the world continues unabated and is often ignored. Prevalence data, collected by international organizations, suggests that systematic torture is practiced in some 65 countries worldwide (Amnesty International, 1991). Additionally, there are credible allegations of torture in another 32 countries (A.I., 1984). Baker (1992) has suggested that, of the 23 million refugees in the world outside their own countries, between 1,150,000 and 8,050,000 people have experienced torture. Many of these people are found among the 600,000 refugees who have reached California. Disabled by the aftermath of their experience, they struggle to integrate into American society. Without assistance, many torture survivors may be unable to adapt and fully function as contributing members of the community.
Torture is a slow process that is designed to render its victim helpless, dependent and devoid of all human qualities. Torture destroys the sense of self; it confuses right and wrong; any belief in the stability of the world is taken away; “truth” becomes a word without meaning. Methods of torture are limited only by the fiendish fantasies of those whose business it is to break others down. Physical methods include beating, electric shock (especially to the genitals), stretching (as on a rack), asphyxiation techniques such as submersion in contaminated water and smothering with plastic, burning, blows to the ears, forced standing or forms of suspension, sexual assault of men and women, sometimes with trained dogs. Psychological methods include sensory deprivation, anonymity and dehumanizing experiences, exposure to the sounds/sight of others being tortured.
Physical effects are both acute and chronic. Physicians may see survivors with symptoms and disabilities related to their torture experiences. Some typical debilitating symptoms include: sleeplessness, headache, fatigue, chronic musculoskeletal pains, gastrointestinal problems, neurologic disorders, and sexual dysfunction. The long-term psychological effects of torture may be manifested by symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and alcohol/substance abuse.
But in order to stop the use of illegal torture there is a need for a central and international coalition with a centralized agreement on the correct and humane that can investigate and punish countries that commit this crime. A Judicial process through an international criminal court can punish the officer s, doctors or politicians that allow and commit these crimes to be committed within their countries borders.
Torture isn t a tool of nations at war anymore as is often believed. Countries that are not engaged in any offensive use torture on its own citizens and inhabitants. China is a perfect example.
The human rights violations in the People’s Republic of China remain systematic and widespread. The Chinese government in an effort to suppress dissenting opinions and to maintain political control over the legal system abuses its judicial domestic courts to the extent of torturing its prisoners and radicals . The lack of accountability of the government and the Chinese Communist Party means that abuses by officials often go unchecked. The PRC detains individuals for a wide variety of radical reasons like exercising their rights to freedom of association, religion and of expression, including the right to impart and receive information. The total number of
persons in China detained without charge, sentenced administratively to reeducation or reform camps, or held by other means, solely for peacefully exercising these rights is unknown. However, that figure is estimated to be far in excess of the approximately 3,000 individuals that the PRC currently acknowledges imprisoning for “counter-revolutionary” or political crimes. Many of those detained are held under circumstances that constitute clear violations of due process.
Torture of detainees is endemic in Chinese detention centers and prisons. Although China became party to the UN Convention Against Torture in 1988, the government has not taken effective measures to diminish the risk of prisoners being tortured or ill-treated. Despite strong evidence of torture in several cases of death in custody, state prosecutors have refused to release autopsy results to families or to initiate investigations. In many detention centers, beatings, inadequate food and poor hygiene appear to be a routine part of the process of eliciting confessions and compliance from detainees. Such treatment is applied to ordinary prisoners as well as political detainees.
To eradicate the problem, it must first be understood and investigated. There are many types of torture. Degrees of torture relative to pain in both physical and psychological level. It is also important to point out that torture can be applied to all areas of a population including women, men, senior citizens and children. If a unanimous document is to be drafted all these aspects have to be taken into consideration.
It is shocking to associate children with torture. It is however a reality that children suffer from oppression, war, and torture directly or indirectly. In the twentieth century, children have increasingly become the target of oppressive regimes. It is alarming to comprehend the magnitude of the phenomenon: half the world’s refugee population are children.
Torture can affect children in numerous ways and can be viewed as:
social trauma (i.e., disintegration
Young children who have experienced or been exposed to some form of torture may have numerous symptoms, including recurring nightmares, and have trouble sorting out what is reality and what is fantasy. For children, exposure to traumatic experiences can create anxieties and insecurities that can cause them to perceive every aspect of the world as being unsafe and frightening.
The severity of the symptoms depends on a number of factors, which include the age of the child at the time of trauma, the duration of exposure to the trauma, the degree to which the child is isolated socially from family members, the stories they have been told about what happened to a family member, and the levels of support received.
Adolescents are targeted in oppressive regimes throughout the world. They are often coerced into combat roles by such regimes and forced to engage in warfare
For many adolescents who have been exposed to torture there is a gap between their age and level of maturity and their academic knowledge and skills. Consequently, many youth who have lived through violent and oppressive regimes are older than their years.
The longer one has lived in one culture, the more difficult it can be to settle into another. Refugee survivors of torture who are seniors have a particularly difficult time adjusting to a new culture and are at increased risk for many problems such as mental health problems, stress, and anxiety during resettlement. Seniors who are survivors of torture, particularly those who have been in a new culture for only a short period of time, are commonly isolated from everything they’ve ever known. In turn, many seniors in this situation are forced to rely heavily on younger relatives for financial, social, and psychological support. The dislocation of roles and loss of social respect in the circumstance can impact on the entire family. Seniors who are survivors of torture have special needs (i.e., health care,
community support) and these need to be accessible to them culturally, linguistically, and physically. Ethno-specific support programs are important in meeting the mental health and social needs of seniors in this situation so their participation if facilitated.
Psychological symptoms of torture frequently include anxiety, depression, irritability, paranoia, guilt, suspiciousness, sexual dysfunction, loss of concentration, confusion, insomnia, nightmares, impaired memory, and memory loss.
Survivors of torture are often unwilling to disclose information about their experiences. They may be suspicious, frightened, or anxious to forget about what has happened. These feelings may discourage them from seeking the help they need.
Treatment for both physical and psychological after-effects requires a great deal of sensitivity on the part of healthcare professionals. For example, it is important to remember that those seeking psychiatric help
are healthy people who have been systematically subjected to treatment intended to destroy their personalities, their sense of identity, their confidence, and their ability to function socially. Survivors may need assistance in understanding their experience, and help in rebuilding their identity. J. Reid and T. Strong, in Torture and Trauma, identify some situations that may induce feelings of terror:
Officialdom (especially those in uniform such as hospital staff, police, immigration officials)
Signing forms (some of which state that false declarations may result in prosecution, fines or imprisonment – cautions a survivor cannot take lightly)
Disclosing personal or family details (even date of birth, residential address, etc.)
Admission to hospitals (especially psychiatric hospitals, which may resemble prisons)
Doctors (whom they may have encountered in prison advising the torturers about how much abuse the victim could endure or how to cause maximum pain without killing the victim)
Staff of government agencies (whom some fear may be reporting their activities to government security agencies, and they, in turn, to representatives of the governments from which they fled).
Physicians need to understand that surgical and examination instruments and procedures may be those used in torture, so all procedures should be carefully explained. Some treatments, such as physiotherapy, need to be conducted with special awareness of possibly lower pain thresholds.
Survivors of torture and their families may also lose some of the values and beliefs that may have sustained them before they went through trauma. They may be unable to trust people and, consequently, become disillusioned. These are just some of the more pervasive and long-lasting effects of torture.
Once examined the causes and effects of torture, the way to combat is the following step. First, to be able to determine the rules and laws as well as to enforce the measures a, Judicial International Criminal Court will be created. This court will be made up of the nations that voluntary are willing to obey and follow the rules. This statute will be the constitution of the Judicial Code to be enforced by appointed expert delegates from each of the member countries. It is considered that this system, which is based on complaints from individuals or from States claiming that human rights violations have taken place, could usefully be supplemented by non-judicial machinery of a preventive character, whose task would be to 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. The Committee of Delegates would carry the following functions and powers:
Carry out visits to suggest improvements as well as random inspections of persons deprived of their liberty to ensure termination from torture and from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Detailed descriptions and personal opinions of the way inmates are treated. A grading system will be put into effect to evaluate the status of each facility and the correct treatment of its prisoners.
The immediate transfer of an inmate believed to be the victim of illegal torture to another facility that has before-hand passed the quality control requirements by the International Judicial Courts.
The members of the Committee shall be elected for a period of four years. They may only be re-elected once. However, among the members elected at the first election, the terms of three members shall expire at the end of two years. The members whose terms are to expire at the end of the initial period of two years shall be chosen by lot by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe immediately after the first election has been completed
As a general rule, the visits shall be carried out by at least two members of the Committee. The Committee may, if it considers it necessary, be assisted by experts and interpreters
The country under inestigation shall provide willingly and spedily
a access to its territory and the right to travel without restriction;
b full information on the places where persons deprived of their liberty are being held;
c unlimited access to any place where persons are deprived of their liberty, including the right to move inside such places without restriction;
d other information available to the Party which is necessary for the Committee to carry out its task.
The Committee may interview in private persons deprived of their liberty.
No personal data shall be published without the express consent of the person concerned.
Immunity and temporary release from solitary confinement to testify can be given to a victim of torture with enough evidence of wrong due process in order for him or her to speak freely of his punishers.
The International Judicial court will issue laws and code conduct for law officials. These codes will be the same for all countries members of the International Judicial Court. These codes will prevent law officials from engaging in any physical or psychological abuse of national or international inmates. They will clearly lay down what actions are categorized as torture under the statute.
The International Judicial court against torture will dedicate a strong research department to gain information in new and complex ways of torture in order to be able to spot and identify symptoms on victims. Also, science and medicine taking such a large role in the complexity of modern torture will have very strong punishments for those doctors or scientist that actively participate in the crime. Some of these guidelines will include:
The Doctor or scientist shall not participate in the practice of torture or cruel, and inhuman procedures.
No Doctor or Scientist shall provide any instruments or utensils, substances or knowledge toward the practice of torture or to diminish the ability of the victim to resist such treatment.
Loss of certifications if evidence is given of a doctor or scientist present at any known torture session.
Any Doctor or Scientist has the moral and legal obligation to report any evidence found of torture on a victim.
The statute also will include a strong disciplinary and criminal prosecuting department to process investigate and charge, individuals, institutions or even nations that do not follow the set guidelines of the International Judicial Court. An appeals court will also be available for those convicted of torture to re-trial their case. Any extradition of convicted torturers will be swiftly executed among member nations to have the convicts serve their sentence in their country. There for avoiding retaliation if the case may be.
The members of the traveling and inspecting comities shall be granted special privileges in order to levy the risks and fatigues of the constant travel and emotional wear. For one, they will be given immunity from personal arrest as well as the inspection of their personal baggage. Also any legal immunity from any words or actions performed or formulated during the course of their investigations and inqueries .Also exemption from any restrictions or problems on their liberty of movement either departing or arriving to their country of residence, or country of future inspection.
Documents and papers of the Committee that relate to any particular area of business of the Committee shall be inviolable. This also includes any correspondence as well as its censorship of its contents by the host country
Privileges and immunities are accorded to the members of the Committee, not for the personal benefit of the individuals themselves but in order to safeguard the independent exercise of their functions. The Committee alone shall be competent to waive the immunity of its members; it has not only the right, but is under a duty, to waive the immunity of one of its members in any case where, in its opinion, the immunity would impede the course of justice, and where it can be waived without prejudice to the purpose for which the immunity is accorded.
Conclusion and Suggestions
Due to the fact that torture occurs in so many countries regardless of size, economic welfare or governmental ideology, a serious of changes must be made in order to eradicate this international widespread crime. Current domestic laws in many countries not only help the offenders and torturers it also protects them from prosecution both nationally and internationally. The tortured victims therefore find themselves cut off from any help from the outside and subject to the pity of their torturers. Since the arm of the law is sometimes actually committing the crime, there is no basis for prosecution or even wrongdoing of due process. That is the reason for the drafting of this instrument could become Body of Principles for the International Criminal Court for Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment. This instrument would safeguard and protect individuals under forms of incarceration to never have to be subjugated witout defense to less than human and torturous conditions.