Convention against TortureAround the world and around the clock, human rights violations seem to never cease. In particular, torture violations are still rampant all over the world. One regime, the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, establishes a strong elaboration of norms against torture.
Despite its efforts, many countries still outright reject its policies against torture while other countries openly accept them, but surreptitiously still violate them. The US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia all have failed to end torture despite accepting the provisions of the Convention. Israel has used torture since at least the 1970’s. It was not till 1991 that Israel ratified the Convention against Torture.
It however did not accept the provisions of articles 21 and 22. Their acceptance lead to many improvements in human rights. In fact after a supreme court ruling in 1999 all torture was deemed illegal, even moderate physical pressure. This was a major step for human right organizations, and was praised. The convention against torture along with NGO’s such as Amnesty international continue to express concerns to Israel about treatment which amounts to torture and is still unhappy with the situation in Israel.
Supposedly in 1999 when Israel banned a number of interrogation methods it left loopholes by which methods amounting to torture may still continue. The main targets for torture in Israel are obviously the Palestinian detainees which 85% of are tortured. Some methods included prolonged sleep deprivation, toilet and hygiene deprivation, beatings, acts such as forcing detainees to eat and use the toilet at the same time, and electric shock. Despite the media coverage given to Israel by the convention against torture, there is still a significant amount of torture going on and since no legal steps have been taken to implement domestically the Convention against Torture, the convention does not form part of the domestic law of Israel and its provisions cannot be invoked in Israeli courts.
The convention has exposed the tortures occurring in Israel, and set the ground work for eliminating torture, but still has had no significant effect in controlling the problem of human rights violations with regard to torture. The US is supposedly the most free, democratic, fair and just country. However, at the core is a horrible history and current actions of torture. The most infamous torture violations of the US are its actions with prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharaib. At Guantanamo Bay people of over 35 different nationalities still remain in an almost lawless part of Cuba and held in conditions which are cruel, and inhuman, receiving degrading treatment, and no access to courts. The US places an enormous double standard on torture violations because it has always portrayed itself as upholding human rights, and specifically the negative rights of humans to not be tortured.
Torture in Guantanamo included beatings, sleep deprivation, prolonged containment in uncomfortable positions, prolonged hooding, sexual and cultural humiliation, forced injections, and other physical and psychological torture. In more graphic reports of torture, in Abu Gharaib detainees were hooded naked, sodomized, beaten, forced to stand with electrical wire attached to genitalia while balancing on a box, having venomous snakes bite them, forced to get in sexual positions with each other naked, forced to masturbate while hooded, had chemical lights broken and the phosphoric liquid poured on them. These acts of torture done by the US were only exposed due to the continuing efforts of people who are against torture. If it was not for regimes such as the Convention against Torture, Abu Gharaib and Guantanamo would not have received so much exposure. There is not a person now who does not know what the US has done to its prisoners of war.
However despite this, Guantanamo is still open. The US continues to torture and mistreat its prisoners of war. It seems that once again the convention has failed its main objective of ending torture. The convention does review each country every four years, but has no real power to enforce its provisions or sanction any country.
It has however created much exposure for torture, and has aroused much support for its cause. Once again the Conventions main flaw is its .