Thursday, August 9, 2012

Research Paper on Torture

The Use of Tortures as a Controversial Issue

The use of torture has become a subject of great controversy recently. Despite torture is officially prohibited all over the world, it still exists in the modern society. There are two controversial opinions concerning this issue.

Proponents of the torture believe that despite being an undesirable means tortures still can be accepted in some separate cases. They state that in the case when using torture can help to save many lives of innocent people this use can be justified. They give arguments of self-defense when the harm inflicted to the person during self-defense can be justified. In other words, making harm during self-defense and when using torture has the same moral justification – causing less harm in order to avoid bigger harm. In hostage-taking scenario, when wrongdoer threatens a life of innocent person putting the gun next to his head, a police is also allowed to shoot the criminal. In this case moral laws allow the use of force and even bringing criminal’s life as a sacrifice for the sake of saving a life of an innocent people.


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The same logic is not applied for the torture case, though. In the hostage scenario it is permitted to violate the life of the criminal in order to save a life of an innocent person, but in the case with tortures rights of the criminal are saved in the prejudice of the lives of innocent people. Modern laws do not justify tortures, even if the life of other people depends on the use of tortures, state the proponents of the torture using. They also state that argument that tortures will dehumanize society and weaken moral values can not be considered as a serious argument against tortures. Despite using tortures is morally doubtful, not using them can be interpreted as the act in the benefit of the criminals, and in this way we make even bigger moral harm to the society. So, proponents of the tortures do not believe this argument to be strong enough. They also believe that the argument, that tortures do not always guarantee one hundred per cent that they will help to save a life of an innocent person, is also not very impressive. They state that violent actions against wrongdoer are allowed in the case of self-defense, and that is why they should be allowed in the case of tortures.

Opponents of those, who believe that tortures can be accepted in some separate cases, have a strong belief that tortures are inhuman and can not be justified by any means. They compare contemporary society with the one of the past. In ancient times all the prisoners were killed in order to prevent the possible danger in the future. The use of torture was a usual thing in ancient times, but mankind has gone by the path of progress and evolution and the use of torture moves mankind back to the uncivilized past. Prohibition of tortures has definitely become one of those means, which help to save a contemporary society from primitive chaos and cruelty. Moral reasons make the basis of arguments given by those, who stand against the use of tortures.

Opponents of the torture turn to facts and numbers in order to make their arguments more convincing. In spring of the year 2004 people all over the world saw a number of photos where American soldiers tortured Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. All the world saw that the United States of America, the country that for many centuries has served as an example of the liberal attitude and democracy, breaks the norms of the convention and mistreats prisoners. It became an international scandal that could not leave this problem without authorities’ attention. As states Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld: “These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for them and I take full responsibility… I feel terrible about what happened to these Iraqi detainees… It is important for the American people and the world to know that while these terrible acts were perpetrated by a small number of U.S. military, they were also brought to light by the honorable and responsible actions of other military personnel” (Stone, 2004). Despite the government of the country gives excuses and promises to perform necessary actions, the problem is still burning as it uncovered more serious problem of breaking the rules of the Geneva Convention. The Geneva Convention became an embodiment of humanistic principles and rational counting which let save the principles of humanism during the period of war and helped to resolve any kind of conflicts. The United States of America signed this Convention and applied its principles and regulations to its military system. Moreover, since the time the Convention was ratified, U.S. has played a prominent role in proclaiming its principles all over the world. The war against terrorism, proclaimed after the September 11 changed the situation. Unfortunately nowadays, the U.S. shows lack of desire to obey the norms and principles proclaimed by the Geneva Convention. The number of acts, issued during this period, contradict some points of the Geneva Convention. People cannot be sure if that was single case of such treatment or it was one of hundreds of cases that had become known by the public. The use of tortures breaks principle rules of the Geneva Convention and contradicts not only to moral values of the American society but also decreases the authority of the country.

The Geneva Convention is among the main acts which regulates the treatment to the prisoners of war (POW). This convention prohibits any kinds of tortures, and the most civilized counties have agreed with this point by singing this Convention. It is very important to note that prisoners are not in the hands of individuals or organizations who have caught them, they belong to the Power of the enemy country. So, irrespective, aggressive or rude attitude of the individuals must be penalized by the Law. The Detaining Power of the country has the responsibility for the good treatment of prisoners. Those, who stand against tortures, turn to these shameful facts of the US history in attract public attention to the problem. They also bring statistics from other countries and state that the use of tortures not only humiliates human rights, but also brings damage to the authority of the government and armed forces of the country where tortures are used. Moral argument and defense of human rights are also strong arguments brought by those, who believe the use of torture to be inhuman and morally wrong.

Both sides have strong argumentations of their positions and they are not likely to come to any kind of agreement in the nearest future. I believe that the root of the problem is in the fact that they approach the problem of torture from different sides. Moral aspect and protection of human rights, which are the main argument of the opponents of the torture use, do not appeal to those, who base their argument on the defense of the innocent lives and, in this way, justify the use of tortures.
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