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Commemorating Anti-Torture Day

by Stephen Lendman Friday, Jun. 29, 2012 at 4:05 AM


Commemorating Anti-Torture Day

by Stephen Lendman

Annually on June 26, The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture remembers and honors victims, survivors, and family members.

On June 26, 1987, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment took effect.

The Torture Convention defines it as:

"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 person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain and 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...."

Torture is prohibited at all times, under all conditions with no allowed exceptions.

Third Geneva's Article 13 states prisoners "must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited....(these persons) must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation...."

Its Article 17 says:

"No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war" for any reasons whatsoever.

Its Article 87 states:

"Collective punishment for individual acts, corporal punishments, imprisonment in premises without daylight and, in general, any form of torture or cruelty, are forbidden.

Fourth Geneva's Article 27 says:

Protected persons "shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof...."

Its Articles 31 and 32 states:

"No physical or moral coercion shall be exercised against protected persons."

"This prohibition applies to....torture (and) to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents."

Its Article 147 calls "willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment....grave breaches" under the Convention and are considered "war crimes."

All four Geneva Conventions have a Common Article Three. It requires non-combatants, including "members of armed forces who laid down their arms," to be treated humanely at all times.

The (1966) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Article 7 states:

"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Its Article 10 states:

" All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity...."

The Arab Organization for Human Rights in Britain (AOHR) is half right. It says Israel is "the sole country to have legalized the use of torture."

George Bush institutionalized it in America. More on both countries below.

On December 12, 1997, UN General Assembly Resolution 52/149 designated June 26 as an "International Day in Support of Victims of Torture" and annual day of remembrance.

The Human Rights Education Association (HREA) said this year's theme is rehabilitation.

The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) said:

"Despite its absolute prohibition torture continues to be a global phenomenon: both physical and psychological torture. Torture is today prevalent in over half the world’s countries. This is a disgrace in the twenty-first century."

"Its victims are men, women – often targeted by rape and other sexual torture, and also, children. Torture victims are disproportionately from marginalized groups, in particular the poor, but also women and minority groups."

"The aim of torture is to exert power, to punish, create fear and to destroy trust."

IRCT explained that torture victims suffer long after their ordeal ends. Rehabilitation is crucial. It's to "empower (survivors) to resume as full a life as possible."

It takes time, patience and support. Most important, it works. It's also a right under the Torture Convention's Article 14, stating:

"1. Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. In the event of the death of the victim as a result of an act of torture, his dependents shall be entitled to compensation."

2. Nothing in this article shall affect any right of the victim or other person to compensation which may exist under national law."

Annually, over 100,000 victims receive treatment. Global centers provide it. Many other survivors needing care never get it. They and family members both suffer.

IRCT reminds governments of their responsibility to ensure rehabilitation "from this most horrendous form of abuse."

Rehab is a right, and it works, IRCT stressed.

Hypocritically, on June 26, a White House Office of the Press Secretary said:

America "joins the international community in pledging to work toward the elimination of torture and all other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

"As the President has made clear since the first days of the Administration, the United States rejects torture as unlawful, counter to our values, and inconsistent with the universal rights and freedoms that should be enjoyed by all men, women, and children wherever they live. Torture is abhorrent: we do not practice it, and we will not countenance it or transfer individuals to any country where they will be subjected to it."

Fact check

America is the world's leading human rights abuser. Straightaway as president, Obama pledged to close Guantanamo. It's still open. Torture remains policy.

It's institutionalized in US-controlled overseas torture prisons and in America's homeland gulag.

On May 11, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, an independent tribunal found George Bush, Dick Cheney, and other administration officials guilty of crimes of war and torture.

Obama continues the same cruel, degrading, and dehumanizing practices. Policy remained seamless from one administration to the next.

Bradley Manning is a national hero. He's also one of many torture victims. He remained in punishing confinement for 19 months untried. He's been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment. It's unclear to what extent it improved.

For 11 months, he was held in punishing isolation 23 hours a day.

One hour alone outside his cell, he was shackled, allowed to walk in circles, then returned to confinement the moment he stopped.

Video monitored him 24 hours a day.

He was prohibited from accessing news and other information.

He was forced to respond to guard inquiries almost every five minutes.

He was awakened at night for being out of full view.

He was denied a pillow and sheets. He was given an uncomfortable blanket.

At night and outside his cell mornings, he faced forced nudity.

In March 2011, his lawyer, David Coombs, said:

"There can be no conceivable justification for requiring a soldier to surrender all his clothing, remain naked in his cell for seven hours, and then stand at attention the subsequent morning."

"This treatment is even more degrading considering that Pfc. Manning is being monitored - both by direct observation and by video - at all times."

At the time, UCLA Professor Mark Keiman said:

"The United States Army is so concerned about Bradley Manning's health that it is subjecting him to a regime designed to drive him insane....This is a total disgrace. It shouldn't be happening in this country."

In a New York Times commentary headlined "A Cruel and Unusual Record," former President Jimmy Carter condemned America's "widespread abuse of human rights."

He cited targeted assassinations, indiscriminate drone killings, indefinite detentions without charge, warrantless spying, abusing people based on "their appearance, where they worship or with whom they associate," keeping Guantanamo open, and obtaining confessions by torture.

What George Bush authorized, Obama continues. Illegal practices remain policy. Horrific torture is institutionalized. International law is spurned. Constitutional rights don't matter.

On August 2, 2002, Bush administration officials John Yoo, Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee and David Addington urged using harsh measures amounting to torture.

They said, by presidential authorization, international and federal laws don't apply during wartime. They also claimed "war on terror" priorities override them.

On March 14, 2003, the same officials issued what became known as "the torture memo."

Titled "Military (or CIA) Interrogation of Alien Unlawful Combatants Held Outside the Unites States," they claimed extreme measures amounting to torture are permitted.

Presidents may use "the fullest range of protect the nation." He "enjoys complete discretion in the exercise of his authority in conducting operations against hostile forces."

It argued against prohibiting anything considered cruel and unusual. It institutionalized use of "intense pain or suffering" short of what would cause "serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure, (loss of significant body functions), or permanent damage," would result.

On July 20, 2006, Bush's Executive Order (EO) titled "Interpretation of the Geneva Conventions Common Article 3 as Applied to a Program of Detention and Interrogation Operated by the Central Intelligence Agency" authorized the CIA director to use abusive interrogation practices.

Obama governs by diktat authority. He continues the same horrific practices.

They include sleep deprivation, waterboarding, painful stress positions, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation and/or overload, severe beatings, electric shocks, induced hypothermia, and other measures able cause irreversible physical and psychological harm.

Gerald Celente is right saying "America's political system is degenerate, corrupt and ineffective. It cannot be patched up or papered over." It needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. It can happen if enough concerned people accept no less.

The Arab Organization for Human Rights in Britain (AOHR) urged lawsuits against all torture perpetrators.

On June 26, it "expressed concern about the suffering of the Palestinian people who are tortured under the occupation...."

It said for decades they've been subjected to horrific forms of torture. It's official policy despite Section 277 of its 1977 Penal Law prohibiting the practice. In similar language to the UN Convention against Torture, it states:

"A public servant who does one of the following is liable to imprisonment for three years:

(1) uses or directs the use of force or violence against a person for the purpose of extorting from him or from anyone in whom he is interested a confession of an offense or information relating to an offense; (or)

(2) threatens any person, or directs any person to be threatened, with injury to his person or property or to the person or property of anyone in whom he is interested for the purpose of extorting from him a confession of an offense or any information relating to an offense."

Nonetheless, Israel ruthlessly persecutes Palestinians and Arab Israeli citizens. They're denied rights afforded Jews. Courts provide legal cover. They also permit torture.

Since 1967, Israel willfully, systematically and illegally practiced torture. In 1987, the Landau Judicial Commission addressed the practice. It condemned the it but approved the Penal Law's "necessary defense" provision.

Israel's High Court of Justice (HCJ) legitimized coercive interrogations in three 1996 cases. Abusive practices were raised. They include violent shaking, painful shackling, hooding, playing deafeningly loud music, prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, and lengthy detainments.

Israel's HCJ ruled painful shackling illegal. It continues nonetheless. Children are treated like adults. The court sanctioned the other practices despite international law prohibitions.

In 1999, the HCJ banned most torture methods. It said "necessity" doesn't constitute sweeping a priori authorization for "physical" interrogations. At the same time, it left a huge loophole. It empower Israel's attorney general to decide guidelines on "ticking bomb" cases.

They're whatever officials say. Horrific practices got de facto approval. They continue unchecked.

Israel and America are the world's leading human rights abusers. They spurn international laws and norms. They exercise abuse of power and defy rule of law inviolability.

Neither country is fit to live in. Celente is right calling America "degenerate." Most Palestinians feel the same way about Israel and then some. So do Israelis voting with their feet and leaving.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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