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Put a stop to torture

Jun 28, 2012, 2:14 PM

Beating people or torturing them in any way is wrong, and against fundamental human rights.

International conventions such as the UN convention against torture forbid any ill-treatment of human beings.

States which subscribe to this convention have a duty to stop torture; and to investigate allegations of such wrong-doing.

Our own national constitution condemns all manner of torture.

Indeed, torture in any form is frowned upon in all civilised societies.

We are aware that our courts have held what is called a trial-within-a-trial to determine the truth of such allegations.

What is disturbing, however, is that we continue to hear allegations of torture made regularly in the courts.

What is incomprehensible is the fact that allegations of torture still continue to be made against persons working for some of our state security agencies.

Of course, we are also aware that personnel of some state agencies have been prosecuted, accused of or charged with torture or assault.

We hope that whenever claims of torture are made against personnel of a state agency, the relevant authorities, such as the ministry of Justice, will look into them.

It is our view that torture is among the highest forms of corruption, in any society.

We believe that torture is tantamount to abuse of office and abuse of power.

We know that torture is a more anti-social activity; in fact it is a more serious crime than drug trafficking, in our view.

That is why there must be a national outcry against torture in all its forms and manifestations.

Inhuman and degrading treatment anywhere, whether in a state agency’s premises, at a police station, in a prison or a private premises used for that purposes must be condemned vehemently.

And its time we come up with measures to prevent torture, or the inhuman and degrading treatment of all persons.

Perhaps speeding up the setting up of a National Human Rights Commission is one way to make a good start; its creation should be given priority over the mooted Anti-Corruption Commission.

Be it physical or psychological torture, that is, beatings, use of electric shock, employment of mind-altering drugs, sexual assault, and various other inventive ways of harming the bodies and minds of other human beings; all these are categorized as forms of torture.

However, despite its prohibition by various relevant instruments, domestic and local, so many people around the world are saying that they were subjected to torture.

The perpetrators know very well that they cannot justify, under any circumstances, torturing fellow human being; especially when they are mere suspects.

Since torture seeks to deny the victim their inherent dignity it should be condemn by all and sundry.

In The Gambia, the 1997 Constitution makes it categorically clear that no person shall be subjected to torture or inhuman degrading punishment or other treatment.

We must remind ourselves that The Gambia is a signatory to a lot of international conventions and declarations, including many that prohibit the violation of human rights.