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Saying No To Torture: A Moral Absolute, Self-Righteous Or Just Naive?

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Chapter Summary

In international law no prohibition is more basic and unequivocal than the absolute ban on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The UN Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the Geneva Conventions all prohibit both torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment at all times. The notorious hypothetical ticking bomb situation is taken as illustrative of a catastrophic circumstance that may justify torture. Even if torture is only authorised in exceptional circumstances, there is the good reason to believe that torture will spread and be used in circumstances which are not so legitimated. Investigating what is wrong with torture, independent of its bad effects may provide stronger arguments for an absolute ban.

Keywords: international law; ticking bomb; torture



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