Blog of Rights


Torture In Guantánamo: The Force-feeding Of Hunger Strikers

By Andy Worthington at 12:45pm

In 1988, when Ronald Reagan signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and declared that it marked “a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment,” the commitment of the United States to eradicating the use of torture was made clear, as were the terms of reference regarding the meaning of torture.

As defined in Article 1 of CAT, torture means “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person,” whether to secure information or a confession, as punishment, or as intimidation or coercion of any kind. There are, moreover, no excuses for this absolute prohibition to be broken. As Article 2 states, “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

After the 9/11 attacks, however, when senior officials in the Bush administration, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, declared a “War on Terror,” they also decided that numerous national and international laws and treaties — including the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture — were an inconvenience that prevented them from seizing prisoners and interrogating them as they saw fit. As a result, prisoners in the “War on Terror” were held neither as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects to be put forward for trials, but as “enemy combatants” with no rights whatsoever.

The Tale of Two Tortured Teenagers

By Andy Worthington at 1:47pm

This is a guest column by Andy Worthington, journalist and author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (Pluto Press). Visit his blog here.

Yesterday, as Barack Obama …

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