Do Ends Justify The Means?
International human rights, for personal integrity refers to the right not to be tortured or exposed to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CID). These are different ways of inflicting pain to people to get specific information. Experts however argue if these methods have substantiated differences. Nowak and MacArthur (2006) observe that there exists a line between torture and degrading treatment. Thus, it is possible to differentiate these terms, which denote the degree of suffering.
According to the United Nations Conventions Against Torture, denying one food and drink do not amount to torture unless it is accompanied by prolonged mental harm (Bakalar, 2007). Nevertheless, the difference between torture and CID depends on the nature, aim and intensity of the treatment applied. Not all inhuman acts constitute to torture. For example, loud noise from the neighborhood cannot be compared to a terrorist who chops off a victim’s tongue. It is clear that the degree of pain in the two cases is different. Nowak and MacArthur hold that degrading treatment is humiliating victims without severe pain whereas torture is inflicting physical and mental pain (2006).
Oftentimes, investigators may use excessive force and cruel tactics to get information from dangerous terrorists. Notably, the law allows use of force and sometimes weapon in specific cases. For example, police can use weapons to apprehend criminals who defy surrendering (Nowak & MacArthur, 2006). Here, a terror suspect who is a threat to state security yet refuses to divulge important information to detectives undergoes forceful interrogation. However, this should be withdrawn once the victim accepts to cooperate or experiences deteriorating health (Bakalar, 2006). This is because torturing a sick person may lead to permanent ill health or death. In all these cases, investigators are to exhaust all possible options before reverting to excessive force.
While defiant criminals deserve forceful interrogation, they need not to be extradited to countries known to use torture when interrogating suspects. In some cases, criminals get exaggerated penalties to compel them to confess. This amounts to abuse of human rights and integrity. For instance, some Middle East countries mutilate victim’s body as an interrogation technique. Guantanamo bay in Cuba is an example of a prison known to torture victims even when they are willing to volunteer information (Carey, 2012). Countries that lack capacity to conduct conclusive interrogation on lethal criminals can outsource them. Thus, terror suspects ought to be interrogated in countries they targeted and not in a different state (Carey, 2012).
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading handling of criminal (Langley, 2010). Clarke argues that no country can make exceptions after the ratification of a treaty (2012). While some countries use rendition to hand over criminals to another states, irregular renditions are not permitted. Rendition is acceptable where a country is incapacitated in interrogating specific criminals and gives them up to knowledgeable countries. Irregular rendition is where a criminal is secretly handed over to another country, known to have to weak laws for human rights (Langley, 2010). Clarke describes irregular rendition as an extralegal way of charging criminals as they undergo excessive physical and psychological pain (2012). It thus undermines the bill of rights and societal morals.
It is not possible to distinguish torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (Nowark & MacArthur, 2006). The understanding of these terms depends on the degree of pain and suffering, severity of the treatment and nature of the situation. For example, it would be inhuman to take a suspect who commits a pretty crime to Guantanamo Bay. However, the society is comfortable when deadly terrorist are sent to the same prison. Likewise, while less ill-treatment does not amount to torture, they could be cruel. Thus, authorities should only use excessive force and rendition during interrogation as the last resort. In summary, the use of physical or mental force on a criminal to humiliate amounts to degrading treatment while torture is applying severe pain with a reason (Carey, 2012).
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Bakalar, N. (2007). The line between torture and cruelity. The New York Times. Retrieved from:
Carey, H. F. (2012). Reaping what you sow: A comparative examination of torture reform in the United States, France, Argentina, and Israel. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger.
Clarke, A. W. (2012). Rendition to torture. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press.
Langley, E. E. (2010). The loss of American values in the case of erroneous irregular rendition. Georgetown Law Journal, 98(5), 1441. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/761183586?accountid=1611
Nowak, M. and MacArthur, E. (2006). The distinction between torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. 16(3), 147-151