Amnesty International: Torture alive, flourishing


The use of torture is widespread 30 years after the United Nations adopted a convention outlawing the practice, Amnesty International has said.

At least 44 percent of more than 21,000 people from 21 countries surveyed by the London-based rights group said they would not feel safe if arrested in their home country.

The report titled Torture in 2014 – 30 Years of Broken Promises read: “Although governments have prohibited this dehumanizing practice in law and have recognized global disgust at its existence, many of them are carrying out torture or facilitating it in practice.”

“Three decades from the convention and more than 65 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, torture is not just alive and well. It is flourishing,” it added.

Amnesty said 155 countries have ratified the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture but many governments were still “betraying their responsibility” with at least 79 countries continuing to engage in the outlawed practice in 2014.

“It’s almost become normalized, it’s become routine,” Amnesty Secretary General Salil Shetty told reporters at the launch of the “Stop Torture” campaign in London. The campaign focuses on Mexico, the Philippines, Morocco and Western Sahara, Nigeria and Uzbekistan.

Shetty also spoke of “the cruelty of inmates in the United States being held in solitary confinement with no light,” of stoning and flogging in the Middle East and of the “stubborn failure” of European nations to investigate allegations of complicity in torture.

The survey showed that the concern about torture is highest in Brazil and Mexico and lowest in Australia and Britain.

Support for torture ranged widely across nations, from 74 percent in China and India, to just 12 percent in Greece and 15 percent in Argentina, the Amnesty survey conducted by GlobeScan found.

The report described police brutality in Asia, where torture is a “fact of life”, and pointed out that more than 30 countries in Africa are yet to make such abuse punishable by law.

Amnesty said it had received reports of torture being used in more than 140 countries and the report gave examples from countries ranging from Nigeria to Mexico and Ukraine.

“Governments have broken their promises, and because of these broken promises millions of people have suffered terribly,” Shetty said.

Loretta Ann P. Rosales, who was tortured under the Marcos regime in the Philippines in 1976 and now leads the country’s human rights commission, said there were several reasons why torture continued.

It was seen as a shortcut to get confessions from detainees, a tool of corruption or an instrument of repression, and came from a prioritization of “the need for state security over human security,” she told reporters.

Shetty said in many instances it was simple: “People get away with it.”

Amnesty is calling on governments to prevent torture by providing medical and legal access for prisoners and better inspection of detention centers.



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