Torture Human Rights

Around the world and around the clock, human rights violations seem to never cease. In particular, torture violations are still rampant all over the world. One regime, the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, establishes a strong elaboration of norms against torture. Despite its efforts, many countries still outright reject its policies against torture while other countries openly accept them, but surreptitiously still violate them. The US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia all have failed to end torture despite accepting the provisions of the Convention.

Israel has used torture since at least the 1970's. It was not till 1991 that Israel ratified the Convention against Torture. It however did not accept the provisions of articles 21 and 22. Their acceptance lead to many improvements in human rights. In fact after a supreme court ruling in 1999 all torture was deemed illegal, even moderate physical pressure. This was a major step for human right organizations, and was praised.

The convention against torture along with NGO's such as Amnesty international continue to express concerns to Israel about treatment which amounts to torture and is still unhappy with the situation in Israel. Supposedly in 1999 when Israel banned a number of interrogation methods it left loopholes by which methods amounting to torture may still continue.

The main targets for torture in Israel are obviously the Palestinian detainees which 85% of are tortured. Some methods included prolonged sleep deprivation, toilet and hygiene deprivation, beatings, acts such as forcing detainees to eat and use the toilet at the same time, and electric shock. Despite the media coverage given to Israel by the convention against torture, there is still a significant amount of torture going on and since no legal steps have been taken to implement domestically the Convention against Torture, the convention does not form part of the domestic law of Israel and its provisions cannot be invoked in Israeli courts.

The convention has exposed the tortures occurring in Israel, and set the ground work for eliminating torture, but still has had no significant effect in controlling the problem of human rights violations with regard to torture. The US is supposedly the most free, democratic, fair and just country. However, at the core is a horrible history and current actions of torture. The most infamous torture violations of the US are its actions with prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharaib.

At Guantanamo Bay people of over 35 different nationalities still remain in an almost lawless part of Cuba and held in conditions which are cruel, and inhuman, receiving degrading treatment, and no access to courts. The US places an enormous double standard on torture violations because it has always portrayed itself as upholding human rights, and specifically the negative rights of humans to not be tortured.

Torture in Guantanamo included beatings, sleep deprivation, prolonged containment in uncomfortable positions, prolonged hooding, sexual and cultural humiliation, forced injections, and other physical and psychological torture. In more graphic reports of torture, in Abu Gharaib detainees were hooded naked, sodomized, beaten, forced to stand with electrical wire attached to genitalia while balancing on a box, having venomous snakes bite them, forced to get in sexual positions with each other naked, forced to masturbate while hooded, had chemical lights broken and the phosphoric liquid poured on them.

These acts of torture done by the US were only exposed due to the continuing efforts of people who are against torture. If it was not for regimes such as the Convention against Torture, Abu Gharaib and Guantanamo would not have received so much exposure. There is not a person now who does not know what the US has done to its prisoners of war. However despite this, Guantanamo is still open.

The US continues to torture and mistreat its prisoners of war. It seems that once again the convention has failed its main objective of ending torture. The convention does review each country every four years, but has no real power to enforce its provisions or sanction any country. It has however created much exposure for torture, and has aroused much support for its cause. Once again the Conventions main flaw is its inability to regulate the provision which it declares.

Saudi Arabia is linked to the US for its torturing by proxy. That is to say that the US tries to escape torturing people by sending them to another country. Saudi Arabia is one of those countries. Saudi Arabia however is not only known for torturing by proxy for other countries but also known for its own torture. Often people arrested for suspected bombings will undergo torture.

There are many documented cases of people being arrested, hit with hammers, sleep deprived, forced to stand on the balls of their feet for days while arms are cuffed to ceiling. Guards threaten prisoners lives, and to gang rape their wives. In February of 2001 Saudi Arabia reported to the convention against torture that the regulations of the kingdom prohibit all forms of torture.

The government of Saudi Arabia cited article 28 of the prison and detention regulations which state that "all forms of aggression against a prisoner or official detainees are prohibited and disciplinary measure shall be taken against civilian or military official who commit such an act". It is clear that despite what the Saudi Government states, that they are still torturing. Once again the convention against torture has exposed much of the torture but done little to end the problem. Saudi Arabia like most others countries simply agrees to such doctrines for political reasons. But because there is no way to secure their actions, the Saudis are free to do as they please.

The convention is making small steps to fully eradicate the problem of torture in Saudi Arabia. In conclusion, the convention against torture, has brought many people together, and has informed many people of the horrible tortures which go on everywhere from the US to Syria. It has tried to set fine lines which prohibit torture under all circumstances. However, since there is no governing body over countries, it remains difficult to enforce the human right standards sought after by the Convention against torture.

The convention has therefore done a good job at identifying the torturers. This has in turn lessened the amount of those persecuted. It will remain a gradual process to eliminate torture from all countries, but nevertheless a necessity, in the quest for universal human rights. Torture will continue until all countries decide for themselves, and not from a third party convention that freedom from torture is a human right everyone deserves.