Monday, March 5, 2007


When I wrote "The Search for Accountability" (previous posts), one thing that I forgot to add was TORTURE. For those who don't know, torture is not formally regarded as a crime in India. I write this in the sense that the Indian Penal Code or any other penal statute have not regarded torture as a crime. It is only the Courts that have in come cases regarded torture as a violation of the fundamental rights of an individual and interpreted it under other sections of the IPC. So where does all this take us?
Torture, in its most common form is used by the Police (A state organ). The fact that custodial deaths occur is proof of the above statement . The issue is all about accountability. The police torture the people and consequently unleash a reign of fear in the society. For all the HR abuses that they are involved in, they get away because of the impunity prevalent in the Indian legal system. It must be noted that in India, there is no concept of 'Offences by the State" but "offences against the State". As long as impunity exists there can be no accountability in the system.


Excerpts; John Conroy - Confessions of a torturer
The warrant officer secured a shipping container that became the unit’s interrogation booth. Stress positions became standard operating procedure. They included standing for long periods; kneeling on concrete, gravel, or plywood; and crawling across gravel. “Another one we’d use was where they would have their back against the wall and their knees bent at right angles. We used to do that as an exercise in basic training and it gets real painful after a few minutes, but we’d make the prisoners do that for a long time.

“We had three different strobe lights going at once, and the prisoner would be in a stress position, and it was cold, so he’d be freezing.” At times the detainees were exposed directly to the strobe lighting, but at other times they wore goggles that obscured vision but allowed the pulsating light to enter. The music in the shipping container was applied by means of a boom box turned up to maximum volume.

“They were talking about using sexual humiliation on these guys, or certain stress positions they had used, or in Afghanistan they would make the guy sit in the snow naked for long periods of time. They said that the detainees that they had were not covered by the Geneva Conventions, which I continued to hear in Iraq too.”

What chills me the most is this statement by Lagouranis:

I didn’t handle the dogs. We had professional dog handlers.




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