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Torture?

February 10, 2010

The British Foreign Ministry complied with a court order and released a summary of conditions and treatment suffered by a Somali man at Gitmo. This is the excerpt the NY Times printed –

[It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2001 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer.

v) It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.

vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him. His fears of being removed from United States custody and “disappearing” were played upon.

vii) It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews

viii) It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the inter views were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.

ix) We regret to have to conclude that the reports provide to the SyS made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.

x) The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities]“

Conceding that the treatment was cruel, inhumane, and degrading (which I don’t but just for arguments sake let’s say we do) does it really rise to the level of torture? Not in my opinion.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 10, 2010 12:29 pm

    Depending on the extent of the sleep deprivation, that could reasonably be considered torture. None of the other stuff mentioned constitutes torture in my opinion. None of it was particularly cruel, let alone inhuman. Both of those terms are highly subjective anway. As for degrading, being imprisoned is pretty degrading by definition. Civilian prisoners are routinely subjected to degrading treatment.

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