Thursday, April 23, 2009

How to Force Confession by Torture

How to Force Confession by Torture
By Jerome Grossman

After a closed-door trial, American journalist Roxana Saberi was found guilty in an Iranian court on charges of espionage. An Iranian-American, Saberi had been living in Iran and working as a reporter although the Iranian government claimed it had withdrawn her press credentials. She was sentenced to eight years in prison.

The harsh sentence handed down to this native of North Dakota has generated a global outcry. President Obama and other national leaders as well as a plethora of media outlets have called for the release of this lovely young woman, once a finalist in the Miss American contest.

The Iranian government has not released any evidence against Saberi. Clearly, she has become a pawn in Iran's relations with the United States. In the political maneuvering, Iran may wish to accuse the U. S. and Israel of planning an attack. A confession of a plot by this lovely American would fit the strategy of Iran. And it might even be true, but still no excuse for torture. The United Nations Convention Against Torture is absolute in its prohibition of torture: “No exceptional circumstances whatever, whether a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability, or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

How to force the confession? Simply follow the tortures used by the C.I.A. as described by the experts on the International Committee of the Red Cross from their 43 page report on the treatment of fourteen "high-value" detainees in C.I.A. custody, published February 2007 on for more gory detail.

• Suffocation by water
• Prolonged stress in standing position
• Beatings by use of a collar
• Prolonged beating, kicking, slapping
• Confinement in a box severely restricting movement
• Prolonged nudity
• Sleep deprivation
• Exposure to cold temperature
• Prolonged Shackling
• Threats of ill-treatment to family
• Deprivation/restricted provision of solid food

Questions: If Roxana Saberi confesses, will the world believe it was not forced? Do the confessions forced by the C.I.A. on the grounds of national security set a precedent and valid excuse for using the same methods on Saberi and perhaps other Americans? How reliable and credible would Saberi’s tortured answers be? Enough for the Iranians to be sure of the confessed information? And how would the use of torture diminish the reputation of the government of Iran as it has diminished the U.S. government?


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