Article 5: Freedom from Inhuman Treatment

  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The Right to Freedom from Inhuman Treatment ensures that no one should be tortured physically or mentally. No one should be subject to degrading or humiliating treatment. Furthermore, no one should be sent to another country to face criminal charges if there is a risk of violations of this right in the country you are supposed to be sent to. This is very important when discussing prisoners’ rights.

An example of this right being claimed, was when an Indian Sikh (believer in the Sikh religion), living in The United Kingdom was under suspicion of being a terrorist. The United Kingdom wanted to deport him even though he claimed he would be subjected to torture in India because of his religion. The case was brought before the European Court of Human Rights and they determined that he should stay in the UK despite his terrorist involvement because the Right to Freedom from inhuman treatment is an absolute right. This means that it is a right that belongs to everybody no matter who they are or what they have done.

Even though war, terrorism, criminality, etc. never can excuse torture and otherwise inhuman treatment of anyone, including prisoners, this right is often violated in wars between different countries, cultures, etc. During the Iraqi war, Iraqi prisoners were tortured and treated degrading and inhumanely by American soldiers in Abu Ghraib detention center from 2003-2006. Photos and videos appeared, picturing the horrible treatment of the Iraqi prisoners. Some of the crimes the prisoners were subjected to by the American soldiers included: Jumping on their feet, keeping them naked for several days and photographing them in sexually explicit positions, laying the prisoners in a pile, and jumping on them, a female prisoner was raped and many other offenses. After the trial 11 of the American soldiers received sentences for their crimes. This is one of the most comprehensive and shocking present-day cases of torture.

Written by Nanna Orloff Mortensen

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