World, Life, Infographics

World fails to combat torture

Despite UN Conventions and international laws, torture continues unabated

Ali Murat Alhas   | 25.06.2019
World fails to combat torture 20190625_5_0D084A460F8C64114BE6B4E607277BD76


Torture, one of the most brutal crimes against humanity, was prohibited following various international agreements.

But it still haunts millions across the world.

According to various reports of human rights watchdogs and international organizations, the systematic torture has not been eradicated in the world.

The UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, was first adopted in 1984. It entered into force on June 26, 1987.

A decade later, the UN General Assembly declared June 26 as “International Day in Support of Victims of Torture”, seeking to eradicate torture and support its victims.

Article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 3 of the European Human Rights Convention, explicitly prohibit torture. But it continues to be in practice across the globe with impunity.

Torture in Syria

As the civil war in Syria enters its eighth year, the torture incidents still haunt thousands of people, locked in secret prisons of the regime. They are subjected to horrific torture methods like denailing -- the extraction of the nails from the fingers or toes -- death by burning and rape, just to name a few.

Currently, the Bashar al-Assad regime of Syria holds some 500,000 people in several prisons and interrogation centers. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), 128,000 of these prisoners have been identified. The arrested Syrians are subjected to systematic torture abuses.

Amnesty International accuses Myanmar

Rohingya Muslims have long been subjected to ethnic cleansing. They are forced to leave Myanmar, despite pressures from the international community and human rights bodies. Rohingya Muslims suffer from rape, murder and torture.

Amnesty International, a London-based rights body, in a report has blamed the Myanmar army for committing war crimes and human rights violations in Rakhine province.

The report highlights cases of extrajudicial executions, torture and arbitrary arrests. It records killing of civilians in a military operation in Rakhine state since January.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres once addressed the suffering of Rohingya Muslims as "one of the world's worst humanitarian and human rights crises."

Torture and Palestinians

Most of Palestinians arrested by the Israeli authorities are subjected to torture.

Since its foundation, the state of Israel has pursued a policy of systematic oppression and human rights violations against Palestinian people.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies (PPCS), Israeli forces have arrested a total of 600 Palestinians, including 230 children and 40 women, since the beginning of 2019.

PPCS says the arrested Palestinians are subjected to systematic oppression, ignoring their rights and dignity. It added that 95% of Palestinians have been physically or mentally tortured by the Israeli authorities.

Torture in secret prisons of Egypt

International human rights organizations are worried that the torture in Egypt has significantly increased since 2013, when Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, assumed office following a bloody coup.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report based on its research and interviews held in Sinai Peninsula between 2016 and 2018. The report concluded that the tension in Egypt has peaked and revealed arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial executions and attacks against civilians since 2013.

The report said the Egyptian military and police forces were at the center of human rights violations, adding many prisoners were subjected to severe beating and electric shocks.

On the other hand, following the death of Mohamed Morsi on June 17, the first democratically elected president of Egypt, HRW called on the UNHRC to launch an investigation into human rights violations in the country, including into the demise of Morsi.

Emphasizing that the Egyptian government remained insensitive towards Morsi, whose health had deteriorated significantly, HRW said the ill-treatment of deposed president could fall under the UN’s anti-torture conventions.

Secret UAE torture prisons in Yemen

While the civil war in Yemen has been going on for the past five years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the largest military partner of Saudi-led coalition, has been criticized by various reports and international media outlets for torturing and raping prisoners in its secret prisons.

A report released by a committee established by the UNHRC to monitor rights violations in Yemen on August 28, 2018 pointed out possible war crimes committed by parties to the conflict, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Torture of CIA

National and international organizations have long criticized the U.S. for arresting thousands of people under the pretext of counter-terror operations and using inhuman interrogation techniques, especially after 9/11 terror attacks.

The UNHRC has urged the U.S. to shut down its Guantanamo Base and secret prisons across the world, where the latter detains terror suspects without putting them to judicial trial.

The U.S. Senate in a report issued in 2014 said that the prisoners were subjected to a variety of torture methods, such as sexually abusive threats, waterboarding etc.

In this context, the U.S. administration is demanding the extradition of Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange, who had exposed the indiscriminate killings by the U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. Department of Justice accused Assange of being part of one of the biggest information leakage in the country’s history.

*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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