"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 party has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination or 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."The impact of torture on victims is devastating and far-reaching, with both short term and long term physical and psychological consequences. The impact of torture is aptly captured in a short video sponsored by the European Union.
Watch the 46-second-long compelling video designed to raise awareness about the damaging impact of torture.
International law prohibits torture in all its forms under every circumstance whatsoever. In other words, freedom from torture is a non-derogable right, as laid down in article 2(2) of the Convention Against Torture.
Despite this strong prohibition, state-sponsored torture, or torture authorized by public officials prevails in many countries.
When talking about torture, the U.S, a free country with a shameful record of torture abroad, comes to mind.
It is known that many people have been tortured with the "consent or acquiescence" of top U.S. officials, including former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld.
The US is party to the Convention Against Torture and therefore has an obligation to prevent acts of torture and punish perpetrators. Despite this obligation, the U.S. perpetrated untold acts of torture, with impunity, against some of its citizens and citizens of other countries under its custody. The evidence against the state officials who authorized acts of torture is overwhelming but there has been lack of will to bring them to justice in a national or international court. This has weakened the voice of the U.S. in international human rights discourse.
The books have not closed on the role played by George Bush and other members of his administration in so-called "enhance interrogation techniques" against detainees in U.S. custody. In October 2011, Amnesty International urged Canada to arrest and prosecute George W. Bush. The fight against torture and its perpetrators continues.
George W. Bush is arguably the "official" face of torture, especially after he admitted authorizing torture and attempted to justify the immoral and illegal practice in his first interview after leaving the White House.
Torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment has devastating consequences on victims. It should be eradicated and the dignity of survivors should be restored.
June 26 is International Day in Support of Torture Victims.
*Photo: The New York Times.