International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Given the current situation, suddenly there is seems to an increase in public lynching, police versus the commoner situation. So maybe today is the right day to see where we are on this one.

In 1997 UN launched the international day in support of torture victims this is a result of the UN convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This convention is binding according to international law

Torture could be infliction of physical or mental pain through violence, fear or massive humiliation. The UN also includes governmental torture like police or interrogative procedures to extract confessions, but pain or suffering caused by legal penalty is not considered torture.

In India the use of torture is quite widespread and predominant it is quite unchallenged and unopposed that it has sadly become normal and legitimate practise in investigating crimes or extracting confessions. Women face custodial rape, molestation and other form of sexual harassment, this is not just inflicted on accused but legitimate petitioners, complainants or informants are also subjected to inhuman degrading treatment that violates human dignity.

The constitution of India provides for life , dignity and honour in the chapter of fundamental rights, that makes it the primary obligation of the judiciary to ensure that its dignity is maintains. Article 5 of UDHR 1948 specifically proclaims, “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.  Article 7 of ICCPR (International covenant on civil and political rights) adds an addendum that no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experiment.  The Human Rights Commission has been delegated the responsibility of implementation of the above decree under the Article 40v-4 of ICCPR,..as the purpose of this article is to maintain human dignity, it is applicable even in situations of public emergency.

The Human rights committee includes corporal punishment at educational institutes and patients in medical institutions.

The Convention Against Torture And Other Cruel Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment,(CAT) adopted on Dec.10th 1984 aims to prevent and prohibits acts of torture  in the

Article 1     it defines torture.

Article 2     says torture cannot be justified even during war or public emergency

Article 3     forbids states parties to expel or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he could be in danger of being tortured. It also allows the extradition of people accused on torture.

The implementation of this is monitored by a Committee Against Torture which consists of 10 experts elected by the state parties to the convention and they serve in their personal capacity.

India has signed the convention against torture but not ratified it, India has expressed concern over Art.20 and Art.22 of the convention.

Victims of torture tend to feel a lot of rage and focus on revenge and very defensive.  Torture survivors tend to get angry at the slightest provocation resulting in people staying away from them, social isolation and loneliness has tremendous impact on the person’s physical and mental health. Anxiety disorder triggered by recurring nightmares and flashbacks could happen. Sounds and sights associated with the torture could trigger the anxiety episode. Post torture anxiety victims tend to avoid social situation where they fear being judged, embarrassed or humiliated. Depression is wide spread in torture survivors and could experience recurring thoughts of death and suicide.  There are victims who go to great lengths to avoid thoughts, conversations, activities and places that could trigger a recollection of the trauma, leading to social withdrawal and isolation this is Emotional Numbing And Avoidance. Some torture survivors are suffer from hyper arousal, this is a condition where they are very vigilant and alert and are easily startled, this is a constant state and does not need a trigger. This in turn makes them stressed and angry many times they are not able to handle day to day activities. They tend to have outburst of angers. About 51% of the people suffering from post torture tend to exhibit sexual dysfunction particularly if they have suffered sexual torture or rape.  This at times is linked to depression or PTSD this in turn could affect the person’s confidence and the way he or she interacts socially.

The psychological effect varies with each individual so it becomes necessary to plan the treatment also case by case.