The Use of Torture in the Fight against Terrorism

Open access

Summary

The argument that torture could be permissible in exceptional cases, such as the fight against terrorism, has been increasingly present in the rhetoric of politicians. President Trump’s belief in the effectiveness of torture has renewed the debate about how far interrogators may go to extract information as part of counter-terrorism measures. Added to this his nomination of Ms Gina Haspel for the position of director of the Central Intelligence Agency, where Ms Haspel has been accused of being involved in the torture of terrorist suspects, and the debate over what constitutes torture and what is permissible in the fight against terrorism is reignited. This article firstly considers whether there has been any evolution with regards to the understanding of which acts constitute torture, and in particular whether severe pain and suffering remains a requirement for an act to constitute torture. Secondly, it enquires whether any limitation of the prohibition of torture is permissible in the fight against terrorism, in light of the universal condemnation of terrorism and the threat it poses to global peace and security.

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