Human rights are those rights of a person that is very fundamental to his / her existence and cannot be created nor curtailed by any government
Human rights are those rights of a person that is very fundamental to his / her existence and cannot be created nor curtailed by any government. In other words, it is any right that an individual is entitled merely due to the fact that he is a human. The fundamental assumption behind human rights is that every person has the right to be treated with dignity. Furthermore, these rights are universal ie they are applicable to all humans (PR Baehr, 1999, TM Fran, 2001, W. Talbott, 2005). The main argument of the essay is to understand if the right not to be tortured an inalienable human right, which means that this right is not subject to be taken away from the possessor at any given time. There exist various school of thoughts with regards to this argument – wherein few are supportive of the torture (regardless of the morals and ethical issues) whereas few are completely against it. The discussions below take us through series of these arguments. As per Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) declared by the United Nations Convention against Torture, it is clear that no individual should be subjected to any sort of inhuman or degrading treatment (G. Jaunius, 2010). In other words, no individual should be subjected to a treatment that causes or leads to fear, anxiety, pain, grief, suffering or humiliation in any manner. Such treatments should be immediately curbed as they violate human rights. Torture should be avoided due to reasons based on pure principle and reasons due to bad consequences of torture. This can be illustrated by the following example: In some societies, people are made to change their views and beliefs by torturing them till they abandon their own set of beliefs and values and adapt to the belief systems of the torturer. Furthermore, torture questions the very power of dignity of a person. Relating this to human rights and as mentioned by G. Steven, 2015, the right to freedom from torture can be considered as an absolute right which means that it can never be justifiable enough to torture someone in any way, howsoever emergent the condition might be. The other school of thought believes that torture becomes necessary at times when getting information is very essential, which is discussed in detail later.
One school of thought believes that right not to be tortured is an inalienable right which means that in no way can they be given away by the possessor, as it follows the characteristics of human rights of being inalienable. Moreover, as per international laws governing torture, it is clear that torture is not permitted even under extreme situations /circumstances including war, emergency or threat. The European Court of Human Rights identifies torture as ‘special stigma’ which devalues the very trends and value system of a society or a community. This is because torture is simply a disregard and disrespect for the autonomy of a person. It further devalues the dignity and self-esteem of an individual. Therefore, emphasizing upon the above facts, it is clear that right not to be tortured is an inalienable human right as it cannot be given away by the possessor under any conditions – as it hinders the very dignity, autonomy, and self-esteem of any individual. Further elaborating on the Article 5 of Human Declaration of Human Rights, we can rightly say that it enlightens the core values of a democratic society. Although torture is legal in some states, it is termed as illegal as per international laws and domestic laws of some countries. The serious after-effects of torture could be the psychological pain, deliberate death and intense mental or physical agony to the recipient and therefore know that this act is intentional and can inflict pain, human rights related to torture are rightly valued. Even the WHO fights against torture and strengthens the value of Human Rights Against Torture. To summarize, no individual has the right to harm the other person with a deliberate attempt to cause physical, mental or psychological pain. Under such conditions, the person undergoing suffering can resort to his treasure of Human Rights Against Torture – this would be his absolute and inalienable right. Therefore, understanding the above details, it is quite obvious to state that the right not to be tortured is an inalienable human right. It cannot be taken away from the person just because we merely do not like the person who is seeking this right.
As mentioned before, since torture is a disregard and disrespect to the autonomy of an individual, it is a violation of human rights. Under the international laws, the cruel and inhuman behavior is strictly prohibited. This prohibition is under the international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Furthermore, there are various legal instruments under which the torture is strictly prohibited and is considered illegal. There are also strict international criminal laws against torture, which state that person resorting to torture or any sort of ill-treatment leads to a criminal responsibility, in other words, is criminally liable. Therefore, just as slavery was a matter of concern, torture was also identified as a fundamental reason of concern and therefore was soon included in the basic human rights standards. Therefore, many steps are being taken for the prohibition of torture in all parts of the world. The human rights observers make sure that they keep a note of various torture-related actions and many clinics are also set up to treat issues related to torture. Even as per international criminal laws, torture and ill-treatment occupy an important place. Therefore, any such act which entails torture also relates to a criminal responsibility. In other words, it is made sure that prohibition of torture or any other form of ill-treatment has to be protected under the international protection of human rights.
Further, prohibition of torture is non-degradable which means that under no circumstances can the state limit the prohibition on torture (whether in circumstances of war, political instability or even in cases of emergency) (KG. Justice Balakrishnan, 2012). Therefore, right not to be tortured is considered as the basic human right which is protected under all international laws and therefore is unalienable. It is very essential to study the legal framework of countries wherein torture is prohibited in the constitution and law. The prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment is acclaimed in many legal frameworks. It is quite essential to understand and determine which treatment rises to a level that it can be declared as a “torturous act”. This completely depends on the type of legal instrument that is applicable to it, thereby resorting to further legalities.
There is another school of thought which believes that torture at times is permissible. These set of people believe that information is more important than ethics and therefore, justifies the existence of torture in situations wherein people are forced to say or reveal information (though this might not be correct at times). Furthermore, they also believe that torture is an interrogation technique to get answers to various questions and is therefore justified. For example, this technique can be used for a person who has information about a bomb placed in an airline. This school of thought believes that the society evolves as a better place when the tortured person (sufferer) gets to understand the meaning of power and that he should always obey higher authorities. However, the other school of thought believes that resorting to torture does not lead to getting the right information always. Many times, people might just say or do things to avoid being tortured. The latter believes that any form of torture is unethical and therefore should be avoided. A tortured individual should immediately resort to his human rights and undergo a legal framework wherein his rights would be protected at all times.
As per theory of Human Rights, no person can be subjected to any form of ill-treatment or cruelty or misconduct that further hampers his / her state of dignity, autonomy, and self-esteem. If any activity leads to such a situation, it can be termed as a torturous act. In such cases, the individual can well resort to the legal framework of his country to seek further protection against such misconduct. Also, from these discussions, it is amply clear that human rights including the right against torture are universal, inalienable and indivisible. Furthermore, it is very clear that human rights are owned by the state of the people and therefore, the legal framework managed by the government must ensure that they value and respect human rights at all times. The human right against torture can therefore rightly be categorized as a universal, inalienable, equal, indivisible and non-discriminatory right to all humans governed by strict legal frameworks. However, there is another school of thought that believes that many people in the world do need torture for the betterment of situations. Therefore, it is important to look at the bigger picture and understand the reasons as to why torture becomes important at times. This is mostly in cases wherein getting information becomes extremely important in a given condition. Although this information might not always be correct, some people still believe that torture is justified.