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Freedom From Torture in the “War on Terror”: Is it Absolute?

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Freedom from torture is regarded as “absolute,” meaning that a state cannot infringe the right for purposes which would seem legitimate such as the protection of national security. Indeed, the freedom is viewed as “non-derogable”; that is, infringements are not permitted even in special circumstances such as times of war or public emergency. Is it right, however, with the growth in international terrorism post-9/11, particularly suicide violence, that the freedom should remain without limitation? Perhaps the torture of terror suspects might provide state authorities with intelligence so that acts of atrocity can be averted? To go on and construct a possible argument justifying ill-treatment against a detainee this article questions whether in fact freedom from torture can be categorised as absolute.

Keywords: War on Terror; human rights; terrorism; torture

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Lancashire Law School, The University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK

Publication date: July 1, 2011

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