11 U. C. Dublin L. Rev. 87 (2011)
Putting Torture in Its Place: A Brief Examination of the Relationship between Torture and Human Rights

handle is hein.journals/ucdublir11 and id is 95 raw text is: 2011]       Putting Torture in its Place: A BriefExanination ofthe Relationship Between Torture
and Human Rights
PUTTING TORTURE IN ITS PLACE: A BRIEF EXAMINATION OF THE
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TORTURE AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Edward Keegan*
INTRODUCTION
It has been surmised by David Luban that in the face of certain dangers, liberal
ideology, will often allow for the use of torture.' The protection of human rights
through advocating torture has increasingly encroached upon political discourse in
recent years and, as will hopefully be shown in this article, this has been to the
detriment of human rights. This argument however, will not be based upon
deontological grounds, but rather within the calculus offered by apologists, in
which torture is presented as the lesser of two evils. According to this calculus,
torture can essentially be used so as to protect human rights. According to Eric
Posner and Adrian Vermeule, a failure to torture suspects will lead to the death of
unidentifiable individuals, an easily identifiable violation of human rights.2 What
will be argued here is that rather than lead to the protection of human rights, torture
will only contribute to their denigration. This hypothesis will be looked at here
under two inter-related assumptions. The first of these assumptions is that torture
produces unreliable information. In revealing the history and actual efficacy of
torture, it is hoped that it will become apparent that apologists have created a
version of torture, which does not equate to historical fact or evidence. When
understood in its proper context the concept that torture can in some way protect
human rights is anomalous, and rather the act in itself should only be seen as a
violation of human rights. In the second section it will be shown how such
violations are not merely contained to the torturer/torture victim paradigm, but
rather can have external effects which can have a widely negative impact upon
human rights.
Finally, having highlighted the various human rights violations, both real and
potential, created by torture, we will revisit the apologist calculus so as to reveal its
fundamental error in terms of human rights protection, showing that empirically
*BA (University College Dublin), LLB (Griffith College), LLM in Human Rights (University
College Dublin), PhD candidate (University College Dublin). The author would like to
acknowledge and thank Dr. Fiona De Londras for her advice on earlier drafts. All error and
omissions are the author's own.
David Luban, 'Liberalism, Torture and the Ticking Bomb' in Steven Lee (ed) Intervention,
Terrorism and Torture (Springer 2007) 249-26 1.
2 Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule, Terror in the Balance: Security, Liberty and the Courts
(OUP 2007) 25.
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