Churches turn fire on interrogation techniques of US and others
With the torture of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad and allegations surrounding interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay uppermost in many people's minds, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches has spoken out against national governments who 'have failed to ratify international norms and standards' that might prevent such abuse.
The comments from Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia come in advance of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture being commemorated this Saturday, and a few days after it emerged that Donald Rumsfeld approved interrogation techniques that included forcing a prisoner to stand for up to four hours, light deprivation, isolation from others for up to 30 days and interrogations lasting as long as 20 hours.
Documents also showed that the US Defence Secretary approved the forced shaving of facial hair, stripping prisoners naked and the use of dogs to induce fear - tactics later used at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The US has insisted that Guantanamo Bay does not come under the Geneva Convention.
The general secretary of the WCC said; "Although there is no human practice so abominable or so widely condemned, physical and mental torture and other forms of cruel and inhuman treatment are now on the increase and are applied systematically in many countries, to the extent that practically no nation can claim to be free of them.
"The inhuman treatment of helpless men and women in the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad that shocked people all over the world a few weeks ago is a recent and tragic example. Torture in all its forms remains a violation of the absolute gospel value of the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of life that the WCC upholds.
"The sad fact that the horrible practice of degrading people, subjecting them to physical and psychological torture continues to be practised at local and international levels in all the regions of the world, whether in the northern or southern hemisphere, is largely due to the fact that national governments have failed to ratify international norms and standards in order to make them applicable to local and national situations."
Kobia also commended the work of organizations like Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) which struggles "to bring to an end the culture of impunity that plagues many of our societies particularly in the South." ACAT shares the "common objective of the abolition of capital punishment which the members of the WCC see as a significant expression of the Christian belief in the sanctity of life".