Torture and Ethics

Topics: Ethics, Morality, Human rights Pages: 5 (1473 words) Published: September 22, 2013


Torture and Ethics
Esstene’ West
AJS/532
December 10, 2012
Eric Yuva

Torture and Ethics

According to Steven Biko, “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” This is very true when it comes to the way of the world and torture. This is because torture has been used as a tool since the beginning of history. Since the 18th century B.C., torture has been practiced because of the Code of Hammurabi- an eye for an eye. Moreover, it has been used as a method to control a person or group of people who are seen as a threat (Jayatunge, 2010).This is why some people feel that it is a violation of human rights that has global implications. Ethical theories such as ontological, deontological, utilitarianism and natural laws all have differing viewpoints on whether or not torture can be justified.

Although many feel that it is morally wrong, others think it is just depending on the situation or circumstance. There are many opposing views surrounding the act of torture. According to ("The Universal Declaration of Human Rights", n.d.), torture is defined as an action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment in order to force them to do or say something. Furthermore, words used to describe it are pain and torment. The word torture along with pain and torment all have bad connotations in most cases regardless of the situation. Being that torture is deliberate; many disagree with the idea of intentionally inflicting pain or agony on a person. Some people are tortured as revenge or punishment while others are tortured for interrogation or personal gratification.

Some forms of torture are not meant to kill or injure the victim. However, many types do result in fatalities. Torture that does not kill the victim usually prolongs their pain and suffering. This is sometimes considered the worst type because if it results in a fatality, it will probably be a long and painful death. There are also many psychological effects that can occur because of torture. Family and friends of the victim can also be affected by the effects of torture.

Currently, there are both international and domestic laws that prohibit the act of torture in many countries all over the world. Whether the torture is deemed acceptable or not sometimes depends on the location or culture. Many cultures view it as inhumane and a direct violation of human rights. According to ("The Universal Declaration of Human Rights", n.d.), Article 5 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that torture is unacceptable. United Nations Convention against Torture also prohibits it and was ratified by over 147 countries in the world. These two alone shows how much some conventions and organizations feel strongly against the act of torture.

Many people are against torture because it can trigger a number of things. Torture is usually so violent that it can have a variety of affects on a person, a group of people, as well as an entire country. Some people who experience torture sometimes suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result. Others have nightmares and flashbacks while some undergo a great deal of anxiety. Depression is another common reaction to torture as well as DESNOS (Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified). Lastly, mental effects can also be a direct result (Jayatunge, 2010).

Torturing enemy combatants has been a controversial subject since the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center by Al Qaeda. This “War on Terror” gave the President of the United States authorization to use force from the military. As a result, this gave the President even more power to use “all necessary and appropriate force against nations, organizations, or persons- he determines who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist’s attacks or harbored such organizations or person.” Therefore, any person that fits under...
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