International Review of the Red Cross, 2007, No. 867 – Torture
This issue deals with historical, legal, social, psychological and political questions relating to torture. It includes a discussion on the legal interpretations of the notion of torture, cruel or inhuman treatment and psychological torture, and analyses the context in which torture occurs and has occurred in the past. While looking at torture from the victims' and society's point of view, it also considers it from the perpetrator's perspective by trying to explain what brings a person to inflict torture. The issue further reflects the torture debate in the United States, particularly after the Abu Ghraib incident.
Issue No. 867- 2007
Table of contents
Editorial - IRRC September 2007 No 867
Interview with Dr Abdel Hamid Afana
Abdel Hamid Afana
Dr Abdel Hamid Afana, MA, PhD, is the President of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, Director of the Training and Research Department at the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and President of the Board of Directors of the Jesoor Organization.
"In truth the leitmotiv": the prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment in international humanitarian law
The principle of humane treatment, as Jean Pictet wrote in 1958, is in truth the leitmotiv of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949. It includes the prohibition of torture, cruel or inhuman treatment and outrages upon personal dignity. This article examines the interpretation of these notions by referring to the existing instruments and jurisprudence on the prohibition of ill-treatment.
Torture of terrorists? Use of torture in a "war against terrorism": justifications, methods and effects: the case of France in Algeria, 1954–1962
During its war against the armed nationalist movement fighting for Algerian independence (1954-1962), France made extensive use of torture. This article challenges the main justification given for doing so, namely the terrorist methods employed by the National Liberation Front, and sheds light on the way torture took effect in the war.
Black letter abuse: the US legal response to torture since 9/11
The use of torture by the US armed forces and the CIA was not limited to “a few bad apples” at Abu Ghraib. This article explores the various legal avenues pursued by the administration to justify and maintain its coercive interrogation programme, and the response by Congress and the courts.
The worst scars are in the mind: psychological torture
Torture often includes methods that entail severe psychological distress and profoundly disrupt the senses and personality. This article describes how psychological methods which do not amount to ill-treatment when considered in isolation can amount to torture through their accumulation over time and their integration into the whole torture process.
Civilization and torture: beyond the medical and psychiatric approach
Marcelo N. Vinãr
The author argues that torture not only affects its victim, but is an endemic illness of civilization which has the effect of shattering the social network that makes us human. If we are to dare look at the oppressive order which destroys victims of torture, we must listen to their agonized groaning and understand them.
Physicians and torture: lessons from the Nazi doctors
Michael Grodin, George Annas
How is such a thing possible? What are the personal, professional and political contexts and the psychological characteristics that allow doctors to use their skills to torture and kill rather than heal? This paper examines case studies from Nazi Germany in an attempt to answer these questions.
Jungle justice: passing sentence on the equality of belligerents in non-international armed conflict
A special challenge posed by the IHL principle of equality of belligerents in the context of non-international armed conflict is the capacity of armed opposition groups to pass sentences on individuals for acts related to the hostilities.
Transitional justice and the International Criminal Court – in "the interests of justice"?
Transitional justice encompasses a number of mechanisms that seek to allow post-conflict societies to deal with past atrocities in circumstances of radical change. However, two of these mechanisms, i.e. truth commissions and criminal processes, might clash if the former are combined with amnesties. This article examines the possibility of employing the Rome Statute’s article 53 so as to allow these two mechanisms to operate in a complementary manner.
International humanitarian law and the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts
Document prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross for the 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, Switzerland, 26–30 November 2007
National implementation of international humanitarian law – Biannual update, January to June 2007
Biannual update on national legislation and case law, January – June 2007
Books and articles
Recent acquisitions of the Library & Research Service