The use of torture is widespread 30 years after the United Nations adopted a convention outlawing the practice, Amnesty International has said.
At least 44 percent of more than 21,000 people from 21 countries surveyed by the London-based rights group for its new report released on Monday, said that they would not feel safe from torture if arrested in their home country.
The report titled Torture in 2014 – 30 Years of Broken Promises read: “Although governments have prohibited this dehumanising practice in law and have recognised global disgust at its existence, many of them are carrying out torture or facilitating it in practice.”
“Three decades from the convention and more than 65 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights torture is not just alive and well. It is flourishing,” according to the report.
Amnesty said 155 countries have ratified the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture but many governments were still “betraying their responsibility” with at least 79 countries continuing to engage in the outlawed practice in 2014.
“It’s almost become normalised, it’s become routine,” Amnesty Secretary General Salil Shetty told reporters at the launch of the “Stop Torture” campaign in London. The campaign focuses on Mexico, the Philippines, Morocco and Western Sahara, Nigeria and Uzbekistan.
Shetty also spoke of “the cruelty of inmates in the United States being held in solitary confinement with no light”, of stoning and flogging in the Middle East and of the “stubborn failure” of European nations to investigate allegations of complicity in torture.
“Since the so-called war against terrorism, the use of torture, particularly in the United States and their sphere of influence… has got so much more normalised as part of national security expectations,” he said.
‘Fact of life’
The survey showed that the concern about torture is highest in Brazil and Mexico and lowest in Australia and Britain.
Support for torture ranged widely across nations, from 74 percent in China and India, to just 12 percent in Greece and 15 percent in Argentina, the Amnesty survey conducted by GlobeScan found.
The report described police brutality in Asia, where torture is a “fact of life”, and pointed out that more than 30 countries in Africa have yet to make such abuse punishable by law.
Amnesty said it had received reports of torture being used in more 140 countries and the report gave examples from countries ranging from Nigeria to Mexico and Ukraine.
The NGO called on governments to prevent torture by providing medical and legal access for prisoners and better inspection of detention centres. It also wants an end to the impunity that exists in many places, urging independent investigations of allegations of torture.
The group notes how the UN Convention made torturers “international outlaws” and prompted governments worldwide to denounce the practice. But it warns that in reality many are endorsing or at least failing to tackle the issue head-on.
“Governments have broken their promises, and because of these broken promises millions of people have suffered terribly,” said Shetty.