Facts about torture
of all refugees have been subjected to torture
refugees in Denmark suffer from anxiety and depression
countries still practice torture
What is torture?
Torture is when a public official intentionally inflicts on a person physical or mental severe pain for the purpose of obtaining a particular result. This could e.g. be to obtain information or a confession or to suppress and intimidate. Regrettably, the list of methods of torture is long, including i.a. physical torture such as waterboarding, beating, electric shock and rape or psychological torture such as isolation, threats and mock executions.
Who is subjected to torture?
Anyone can be subjected to torture, but the victims are often innocent people chosen arbitrarily and belonging to a vulnerable social group. They are often poor or belong to religious, sexual and ethnic minorities. Many of the refugees coming to Denmark have personally experienced war, torture and violence in their home country. They have fought for equal rights and taken a stand against oppressive regimes and have now wound up in Denmark.
Does torture provide reliable information?
Since 1982, DIGNITY has carried out research in torture and the consequences of torture. We know that torture most often provides unreliable information. Research shows that torture can make the victim’s brain ’disconnect’. Therefore, the torture victims have difficulties distinguishing between fantasy and fact and will say anything to avoid further torture. In 2014, a committee under the US Senate published a report on the CIA’s use of torture and its conclusion was clear; CIA had systematically subjected prisoners to torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment without obtaining any useful information.
What are the consequences of torture?
Torture has extensive negative consequences for the victim. Physically, torture can e.g. lead to chronic pain, reduced mobility and brain damage. Psychologically, torture can i.a. lead to PTSD, anxiety, depression and flashbacks to the torture situation. All of the above may make it difficult for the victim to care for himself/herself and his/her family and integrate into a new country.
In this interview by British NGO International Observatory of Human Rights DIGNITY's Senior Legal Advisor Elna Søndergaard talks about DIGNITY's work. You will gain insight into why 141 countries are still using torture, and why torture often leads to unreliable information.
The interview is from the 27th of December 2018.