Thursday, April 30, 2009

Torture?

A guy kills his children by throwing them off an 80ft bridge.  The judge sentences him to death. 

 

But there’s more.

 

“Circuit Judge Charles Graddick handed down the death sentence to Lam Luong and said he would order prison officials to show Luong photographs of the four children each day he is on death row.”

The man is already being sentenced to death.  What justice is served by showing him pictures of the children he killed every day he is awaiting his own death?  Is it merely to cause permanent and severe pain or anguish in the prisoner?  (And since the anguish would be for the rest of his life, I think that counts as permanent.)

The 1975 UN Convention on Torture defines “torture” as:

… torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

Does forcing this man to look at pictures of the children he murdered each and every day for the rest of his life qualify as torture by intentionally inflicting “severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental … for such purposes as … punishing him for an act he … has committed”

Languishing on death row awaiting your death would fall under the “inherent or in incidental to lawful sanctions”, but does the additional harsh treatment amount to torture?

Khalid Sheik Muhammed killed more than 4 children.  And potentially had plans to kill many, many more.  And his pain and anguish was merely temporary.

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