World Bulletin/News Desk
Three decades after the U.N. Convention Against Torture imposed measures to eradicate the practice, torture still happens in 141 countries — many of which are signatories to that convention — according to Amnesty International’s annual report on torture released Tuesday.
Amnesty says, the U.S. government has dodged accountability for perpetrating torture in domestic prisons and CIA black sites and embroiling foreign states in inhumane acts.
Nearly half of people around the world fear becoming a victim of torture if taken into custody, a poll for human rights organisation Amnesty International showed on Tuesday.
Concern about torture is highest in Brazil and Mexico, where 80 percent and 64 percent of people respectively said they would not feel safe from torture if arrested, and lowest in Australia and Britain, at 16 and 15 percent each, the poll showed.
"Although governments have prohibited this dehumanising practice in law and have recognised global disgust at its existence, many of them are carrying out torture or facilitating it in practice", Amnesty said in a new report.
Of the more than 21,000 people in 21 countries surveyed for Amnesty by GlobeScan, 44 percent said they would not feel safe from torture if arrested in their home country.
In the United States, 32 percent of respondents expressed such a fear—which, according to the report, has merit.
"In some maximum security isolation or segregation facilities across the USA, many thousands of inmates are held in solitary confinement in small cells for 22 to 24 hours a day. Many have little access to natural light or out-of-cell recreation time which amounts to cruel inhuman or degrading treatment," reads the study.
U.S. torture is not confined within its borders. In police headquarters, secret prisons and CIA black sites, detainees across the globe report being subjected to torture as a means of extracting information or confessions, silencing dissent or simply as punishment.
"The U.S. government is also failing to ensure accountability for torture and enforced disappearances committed in the context of counter-terrorism operations. No one responsible for the use of interrogation techniques such as 'water-boarding,' prolonged sleep deprivation, and stress positions in Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-run secret detention centres around the world has been brought to justice. The U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence has conducted a review of the now-terminated CIA programme, but its 6,000-plus page report remains classified."
Rebecca Gordon, author of Mainstreaming Torture and lecturer at University of San Francisco, told Common Dreams that the U.S. climate for torture has only grown more permissive since the beginning of the War on Terror. "One of the things we've seen polls show that almost 13 years out from September 11th, 2001, people are more willing to approve of torture as a tool of 'security' than a decade ago," she said.
The report states that the U.S. has involved other countries in its acts of torture: "Torture and ill-treatment has also been documented in parts of the European Union (EU), with some countries also failing to effectively investigate allegations of complicity in torture carried out in the context of U.S.-led counter-terrorism operations," states the report.
According to Gordon, "U.S. pressure on European countries to participate in housing CIA black sites and allow their airports to be used for renditions has corrupted a number of European governments in their stance on torture. One of the effects of torture by the United States—a country universally (if not accurately) recognized as a democracy—is when that country participates in torture in a quasi public way, it creates a legitimation of torture as a practice."
In 2007, the CIA claimed that the agency's torture techniques prevented terror plots against the US and saved countless lives. Although President Barack Obama scaled back the illegal torture programs in 2009, he has been criticized for not offering any form of reparation to detainees who were tortured there.
Those who carried out illegal torture of terror suspects have not been brought to justice either, rights groups say.
Observers say the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques used at CIA detention facilities like Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, which included waterboarding until 2009, fueled anti-American sentiment and undermined US credibility on human rights issues.Last Mod: 18 Mayıs 2014, 14:35