Law Essay on Torture Investigating

Published: 2021-06-23
1247 words
5 pages
11 min to read
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Argumentative essay
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ICC was involved in investigating torture that was perpetrated by the United States in its war against terrorism. International human rights agreements limit the conduct of American soldiers on and off, of the battlefield. The limits apply to cases where soldiers have captured members of the enemy who have now become unprivileged combatants. All soldiers are expected to adhere to these limits based on the fact that it is an important part of military culture. In addition, clear directions with regard to the compliance of these rules are in place as part of military regulations. From 2002, the Bush administration changed its rules that led to soldiers being allowed to use physical abuse on its enemies of war. The changes were a violation of international human rights law. The decision by the Bush administration can best be said to have been legal, political and moral disasters. International humanitarian law and international human rights are statutes that prohibit military forces from using violence and torture on its enemies of war. Most aspects of international human rights laws have been codified into treaties. The center of international humanitarian law is to ensure that a limitation is imposed on individuals who engage in war. In the limitations, there are stipulations which state what soldiers in war can do to each other and what they cannot do to each other. Geneva conventions are international rules that provide certain privileges for combatants in cases of war. In the Geneva conventions, lawful combatants are given the freedom to kill or harm those who they are fighting with from the other side. Apparently, the Geneva conventions treat terrorists as protected persons. Individuals who are protected by Article 4 of the 4th Geneva Convention are individuals who have engaged in belligerent conduct but are not entitled to be treated as prisoners of war. Therefore, terrorists and all individuals that are covered by the Fourth Geneva Convention are expected to be handled in accordance with rules of humane treatment.' Rules of human treatment in this context includes the prohibition of corporal punishment and prohibition of torture. However, under Article 5 of the Geneva Convention, some rights that are possessed by detainees can be temporarily suspended for security purposes. The Fourth Convention prohibits meting physical abuse on prisoners, acts or threats of violence, humiliation, and intimidation (Maloney-Dunn, 2010).

Closing argument at Guantanamo Bay

The Bush administration decided to act in violation of the Geneva Convention on the basis that terrorism posed an unprecedented threat to its security. The Bush administration saw existing treaties as impediments that needed to be overcome in its war against terrorism. The administration was obsessed with the need to acquire actionable intelligence that could accord it unfettered power in dealing with terrorists. In violation of the Geneva Convention, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld labeled detainees at Guantanamo Bay who were of Afghan descent as unlawful combatants who were not entitled to rights that were enshrined in the Geneva Convention. Donald Rumsfeld went further to question the relevance of the Geneva Convention in the United States war against terrorism. Rumsfeld argued that the facts that the United States was facing at that moment with Taliban and Al Qaeda were not the same facts that were considered when the Geneva Convention was being formulated. The Geneva Convections prohibits the use of any harsh methods of interrogation. Declaring the Geneva Conventions inapplicable means that threat of war crimes and criminal prosecutions are reduced. Use of violence against suspected terrorists renders the Geneva Conventions obsolete (Van, 2004).

US forces may have committed torture in Afghanistan

International Human Rights Law limits what the United States can do to its prisoners of terror. According to International Human Rights Law, no one should be subjected to torture or cruel, inhumane, degrading treatment or punishment. According to the Convention against Torture calls upon state parties to ensure that they prohibit or prevent any cruel or inhumane acts which do not amount to acts of torture. The Convention against Torture is meant to govern soldiers in their conduct during wartime. The Convention against Torture states that at no time or under no circumstances may be invoked as a justification to engage in torture. According to the Convention, torture is an act which causes severe suffering or pain to a person. According to the convention, mental pain or suffering is prolonged mental harm that stems intentional or threatened infliction of harm. Democratic systems continue to grapple with how to deal with terrorism together with the limits that have been imposed by the international human rights law. In particular, the legality of certain methods associated with rough interrogation continues to be an issue with respect to international human rights law. Extreme interrogation techniques include sleep deprivation, spreading legs and standing against the wall on toes, deprivation of food and subjection to noise. The above mentioned extreme interrogation techniques are a violation of International Human Rights laws. There are no prohibitions on torture as contained in international agreements (Miles, 2004).

In February 2002, it was announced by President George Bush that neither Al Qaeda nor the Taliban was entitled to protection under the Geneva Convention. From that point henceforth Taliban prisoners started being treated with cruelty and inhumane conduct. In December 2002, Donald Rumsfeld approved harsh interrogation techniques that became standard operating procedures in Afghanistan. The harsh interrogation techniques include stress positions, sleep deprivation, light deprivation, removing clothes, isolating people for long periods of time and using of dogs to instill fear in prisoners. Conventionally, Arabs have always had a fear of dogs because of a religious belief that a person who is bitten by a dog is condemned and unhealthy. At Abu Ghraib detention facility, use of harsh interrogation techniques was prevalent. Other interrogation methods were designed to exploit sensibilities that Muslims had such as stripping of detainees and leaving them naked for lengthy hours. The harsh methods of interrogation that were used in Afghanistan were authorized by top officials of the United States government. The moment that the powers to conduct harsh interrogation techniques came into the hands of poorly trained reservists, they became something that was more sinister. In Afghanistan, the United States administration authorized the use of dogs, stripping prisoners naked, exploitation of Islamic concerns for modesty and the authorization of physical pain (Harbury, 2005).

US Forces may have committed war crimes

There is a United States military official who was once quoted stating that If you dont violate someones human rights some of the time, you probably arent doing your job..I dont think we want to be promoting a view of zero tolerance on this. The above quote clearly reveals that the United States has been involved in war crimes, not once, but several times. Based on the fact that a top United States military officer can state that it is inevitable to interrogate terror suspects without using torture, it means that the United States has on several occasions committed war crimes (Gottlieb, 2005, 456).


Gottlieb, D.J. (2005). How we came to torture. Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy, 449-459.

Harbury, J. (2005). Truth, torture, and the American way: The history and consequences of U.S. involvement in torture. Boston: Beacon Press.

Maloney-Dunn, K. (2010). Humanizing Terrorism through International Criminal Law: Equal Justice for Victims, Fair Treatment of Suspects, and Fundamental Human Rights at the ICC. Santa Clara Journal of International Law, 8, 1, 69-86.

Miles, S. H. (2004). Abu Ghraib: Its legacy for military medicine. The Lancet, 9435, 725-729.

Van, Z. S. J. (2004). Guantanamo Bay: The legal black hole. The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 53, 1, 1-15.


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