Role of forensic medicine in alleged torture cases Torture :True or Fake

S Ghaleb, Sherien ; el Galad, Ghada (10-2014)

Working Paper

An attempt to define torture will focus on international law, and in particular, international human rights and various human rights instruments prohibiting torture where the definition of torture is most developed and where the prohibition against torture is the strongest. In addition, the case laws of bodies set up under human rights treaties prohibiting torture offer assistance. Although these treaties prohibit torture and ill-treatments in clear language, none of them contains a practice definition of torture. Egypt is a place where torture is institutionalized. Human Rights Watch calls the abuse of prisoners in Egypt is “epidemic,”)1( Amnesty International says it is “common and systematic,”(2)and the U.S. State Department’s 2007 Country Report on Egypt concluded that “police, security personnel, and prison guards routinely tortured and abused prisoners and detainees.” (3) The country is one of several to which the CIA, under the now‐infamous rendition program, sent prisoners to be interrogated using techniques too harsh for the agency’s own operatives to administer.(4)The United Nations Convention against Torture which was adopted in 1984 and entered into force in 1987 defines torture as the following: “Any act carried out by or at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity, by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind.” .However, the world is slowly coming to terms with the idea that this is not the only form of torture. Domestic violence, for example, is a very real form of torture and takes place daily in Namibia, much more than the official form of torture. Perpetrators of torture need not be persons acting in an official capacity, but also groups and individuals acting within the jurisdiction of the State Party with its open or tacit consent. The HRC has distinguished among perpetrators acting in their official capacity, outside their official capacity, or in a private capacity.This includes law enforcement personnel, medical personnel, police officers, and any other persons involved in the custody or treatment of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment. Torture is a crime, a serious human rights violation with traumatic physical and psychological consequences. For those who have suffered torture, and for their families, finding ways to move forward with their lives and forget about the trauma inflicted on them is a life long challenge.