Pouring Salt On The Wound Essay

1414 words - 6 pages

The notion that fear will make a human leak information is not a novel idea. Torture has widely been used throughout the world by many groups of people. After World War II, The Geneva Convention prohibited any nation from partaking in torture. The emergence of terrorist activity on American soil brought up the question whether torture should be advocated or prohibited from a moral standpoint. The US changed the definition of torture in order to forcibly attain potentially important information from captives. Even though the new clause suggested that many of the methods the US used were now legal, other countries still had an issue in terms of honoring the Geneva Convention and basic human rights. Advocates for torture promise that countless innocent lives can be saved from the information obtained from a single torture victim. Opponents to the advocates suggest that torture often results in misleading information. Morally, torture is not justified as it degrades humans and often leaves victims scarred for life and possibly dead.
In order to assess the morality of torture, one needs to define it. According to the Tokyo Declaration of 1975 torture is “the deliberate, systematic, or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons acting alone or on the orders of any authority, to force another person to yield information, to make a confession or for any other reason.” This definition’s generality severely limits harmless interrogations by police. The United Nations changed the definition to include severe physical suffering, deliberate intentions, and also added that the action cannot be part of a lawful sanction. The US later revised the definition “to include only the most extreme pain” in 2002. It becomes obvious that with each revision comes freedom for the authority. In 1975, simple bullying of a captive would break the law, whereas in 2002, a beating may still be considered legal. To me torture is the deliberate infliction of physical or traumatizing mental pain to another person in attempt to obtain information that would otherwise be confidential. This definition is stricter than that stated in the Tokyo Declaration of 1975 in that any physical damage makes the action torture. I do however think that law enforcement needs to use certain psychological tactics in order to obtain information. The psychological tactics could not result in any lasting or traumatizing mental effects. This means that the person being questioned can recover mentally and would not have any physical damage. I advocate human rights and I do not believe the consequences of any physical or mental damage would benefit either side.
To me torture cannot be justified. Scientific facts and case studies from the past give clear evidence that it does not lead to valuable information. The Japanese referred to torture as a clumsy method to extract knowledge and stated that it should only be used as a means of intimidation. ...

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