2009 - Volume 12 Number 4
There is nothing new about torture. It has always occurred either directly or by proxy, but the unthinkable becomes possible during times of crisis or fear.
In 1975 the United Nations (UN) General Assembly unanimously approved the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment where member nations agreed to eliminate torture. It was agreed that exceptional events, situations, or factors would not provide an exception to the prohibition against torture.
According to Professor George Williams, the policies pursued by the Bush Administration, mean that, ‘We’re now in a position where the use of torture is more acceptable than it was before 9/11.’
The Bush Administration overrode morality and made methods of torture ‘common’. To give itself the ‘flexibility’ to use methods defined as torture it covertly redefined torture as ‘extreme acts’ which resulted in ‘death or organ failure’.