Wednesday, May 06, 2009

US Is Not The Only One Facing Questions About Torture

The UN is questioning Israel about accusations of torture:

U.N. human rights experts questioned Israeli officials on Tuesday about hundreds of allegations of torture of Palestinian detainees by security forces, which they said had not been investigated in recent years.
While the exact definition of what is torture and what is not might be unclear on a case by case basis--the issue of when torture might be allowed is apparently clear: never--
Fernando Marino Menendez, a committee member from Spain, noted that the Convention against Torture, ratified by Israel, specifically stipulates that there is no justification for carrying out acts of torture, even in times of war or emergency. [emphasis added]
According to Article 2 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
According to this Convention--which Israel signed and Iran did not--torture is never allowed, no matter how many lives are at risk. Considering the perpetual danger faced by Israelis from terrorist attacks, why would Israel have signed on to such an agreement?

It all boils down to the definition of torture in the Convention:
For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means 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.
The key word being severe.

In any case, my problem with the Convention is that it does not take into account a situation of a country subjected regularly to terrorist attacks.

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