Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A legal definition of torture

Bush's counsel, Alberto Gonzales, sought ruling about Torture. For this purpose, he asked the Justice Department to come up with a legal position on this issue. Is it really possible to draw a line between what constitutes torture and what is permissible to do to detainees? Seen from the European perspective, such a definition is hollow. On this matter, it could be interesting to refer to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), as interpreted by the Court of Strasbourg. In its article 2 the ECHR prohibits torture AS WELL AS inhuman and degrading treatments. As a result, the Court of Strasbourg not only sanctions actions falling within the realm of torture, but also less intrusive treatments that are nonetheless inhuman or degrading. To be clear, the fact of being imprisoned without a due trial could very well be considered as a degrading treatment. The lesson for America is important: Torture is not the only evil an administration can commit. There are others. In order to maintain a reasonable level of security, some evils may be justified at times. But, the price to pay for justifying too many evils is the loss of integrity of the power in place.

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