Can Torture as a means of punishment against Terrorism be justified?

General dictionary meaning of torture is to punish by inflicting excruciating pain. Torture as a means of punishment has been used since centuries by the kings and rules of dynasties. In the present century too it is believed by the governments that torture is a best form of punishment to be given to the terrorists or prisoners to extract any information that is needed from the captives. If any kind of force is used physical or mental on the human beings to get any kind of information then it amounts to torture.1

Torture is not used by the nation as a means to extract force until and unless necessary to safeguard the life of the common man and to bring out peace and justice in the society but most of the criminals do undergo some kind of torture which can be physical or mental like, food deprivation, verbal abuse, burn on the body, beatings, sleep deprivation, isolation etc. Under torture an individual is violated of right to integrity where they are not given any rights or privileges. Intentionally inflicting pain on other persons and it is very wrong and it cannot educate a person to become a better individual in the society. Such physical and emotional torture on a human can only bring in fear or trauma and damage the person emotionally which promotes sadism. Such torturous punishment is considered uncivilized and it does not serve any purpose other than oppression. Some individuals are affected emotionally so much that if one person tortures him/her they feel that they should do the same to the other persons so thus brings out hatred towards each other. Many of the terrorist do not get punishment since they die for their cause even before they are caught without giving out the secret and thus there is no way they can be tortured. Even if a terrorist is caught and he is tortured for any kind of information their group usually retaliate and thus it causes more terrorist actions. Morally also it is wrong to torture a person to save another person. If we consider our own countrymen or soldiers who are caught by enemy nations and tortured to death it does not go easy with us. USA being the agent of human rights if it promotes torture then it would be hypocrisy. Every society has certain standards where laws play a major role. Every nation should treat their war prisoners humanely but still thousands of prisoners are abused and ill-treated and misused too by the captive nations. On human grounds torturing a human or any animal is bad and not acceptable because every living being has a right to life and get individual privileges. Instead of torturing if use of correctional behavior is used as a method to deal with the terrorist it can bring a lot of change in the society as punishment cannot and will not work always. We see in everyday news that someone from some country is dead because of torture. Use of force by police and armed forces are seen in almost all the countries of the world. Some countries use torture as a method which leads to murder of the prisoners or terrorists and it should not be used as a method to kill a person or human being by any government.2

Prisoners of war are the worst hit people where torture is used intensively no matter how righteous the war was even though the reason of war was for good of the society it also shows the worst element of human greed and hatred towards the prisoners. It is through torture a person usually feels that they are using their absolute power to curb the prisoners of war or terrorists. Recent example of such abuses can be seen in Abu Ghraib prison camp which is in Iraq when US government declared war and got victory over Iraq and tortured the prisoners in Abu Ghraib and treated them as dogs. Until 2004 the abuse in Abu Ghraib was not disclosed and thus many countries including India had condemned the act of US government as mainly the torture was so horrible which involved sexual abuses on the prisoners of war. Many Muslim nations were angered by the acts of US government like Egypt and Indonesia and other middle-east countries. Nearly 2/3 of Americans believe that terrorists should be tortured to get information in most of the circumstances as they say, if torture can stop the next terrorist attack or anything wrong being done by them. Since America has shown the world that they respect dignity of each and every human being it has to follow it and cannot suspend the same in the name of national security.3

In India incidents of torture have been reported widely across the nation by the police in different ways like electric shocks, socks to genital areas, ears, tongue etc. In some incidents police do not allow the families to visit the detainees nor can they speak to them over phone. In one Parvinder Singh’s case who was detained in detention for a week before he was legally arrested where he was tied for 8 hours and was also threatened to be killed by the Punjab police. In another instance police had detained the detainee’s family members too and tortured them where women are also stripped naked under police custody as a method of metal torture to the detainee.4

Every human being in the society is different and should be respected by one another. Torture kills freedom of the humans which every human beings deserve being free individual. If a person has to be interrogated which involves the interest of the nation also the individual personal liberty should not be affected. To bring in transparency and accountability of all the cases proper method of recording the interviews and interrogation procedures should be made in all the police stations and it should be done by a proper authorised police officer who has the right to do so. Terrorism and terrorist activities should be seen and met with new ideas and approach.5


  1. The Effects and Effectiveness of Using Torture as an Interrogation Device: Using Research
    to Inform the Policy Debate by Mark A. Costanzo;
  2. Is torture ever justified?
  3. Is torture ever justified?
  4. Can the Use of Torture in the War on Terror be Justified?
  5. Prohibition and punishment of torture and other forms of ill-treatment.
  6. Interpretation Of Torture In The Light Of The Practice And Jurisprudence Of International Bodies.
  7. The Ethics of Torture, by Rebecca Evans
  8. Torture Terrorist Information
  9. Fabricating Terrorism Through Illegal Detention And Torture

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