The Struggle Against Torture: Challenges, Assumptions and New Directions
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This short essay offers a broad and necessarily incomplete review of the current state of the human rights struggle against torture and ill-treatment. It sketches four widespread assumptions in that struggle: 1) that torture is an issue of detention and interrogation; 2) that political or security detainees are archetypal victims of torture; 3) that legal reform is one of the best ways to fight torture; and 4) that human rights monitoring helps to stamp out violence. These four assumptions have all played an important role in the history of the human rights fight against torture, but also resulted in limitations in terms of the interventions that are used, the forms of violence that human rights practitioners respond to, and the types of survivors they seek to protect. Taken together, these four assumptions have created challenges for the human rights community in confronting the multiple forms of torture rooted in the deep and widespread inequality experienced by many poor and marginalized groups. The essay ends by pointing to some emerging themes in the fight against torture, such as a focus on inequality, extra-custodial violence, and the role of corruption.
CitationTobias Kelly, The Struggle Against Torture: Challenges, Assumptions and New Directions, Journal of Human Rights Practice, Volume 11, Issue 2, July 2019, Pages 324–333, https://doi.org/10.1093/jhuman/huz019
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