International Law, Torture and the Transfer of Suspects: Outsourcing Torture

Fugitives from justice have always been spirited across borders to face their day in court. But should those suspected of acts of terrorism be transferred to other countries when it is known they may be tortured? And does the fight against terrorism justify changing accepted international standards?

The World Today
5 minute READ

Dr Louise Arimatsu

‘Extraordinary rendition’ is the term used to refer to the transfer of someone suspected of committing a serious terrorism-related offence to a foreign state that has a record of subjecting prisoners to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The primary purpose, it appears, is to gain useful information for the global ‘war’ on terror by coercive interrogations. This practice is increasingly condoned by liberal states in the ‘war’ on terror.

Condemning the policy is not difficult. Transferring people to the custody of states known to practise torture is not only morally reprehensible – even if the individual is suspected of being involved in a terror attack or has terrorist links – but also violates fundamental principles of international law.

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