UN Rapporteur Says Exploiting Psychological Torture Could Lead To Сybertorture

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 22nd February, 2020) Dismissing psychological torture as a less severe form of coercion in order to circumvent the ban on causing physical pain to detainees can lead to cybertorture as another form of interrogation, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer said on Friday in an interview with The Guardian newspaper.

The statement was made amid the release of a documentary, titled "Eminent Monsters: A Manual for Modern Torture," about the CIA's secret funding of extreme physical and mental torture techniques that were used on the so-called hooded men, 14 people allegedly linked to the Irish Republic Army, in the 1970s in Northern Ireland. The European Court of Human Rights that said in a 2018 verdict that the "hooded men" suffered inhuman and degrading treatment but not torture, a conclusion that Melzer rejected because he considered the court's reasoning that physical torture was more serious than inhumane treatment wrong.

"Some states have even adopted national definitions of torture excluding mental pain or suffering, or interpretations requiring that in order to constitute torture, mental pain or suffering must be caused by the threat or infliction of physical pain or suffering, threats of imminent death, or profound mental disruption," Melzer said, as quoted by The Guardian, adding that as a result psychological torture methods are often used "to circumvent the ban on torture because they do not leave any visible marks."

Within this context, the rapporteur added that, given the widespread attitude that mental torture is more "light," cybertorture was a concerning new trend, as cybertechnology could also be used to inflict mental suffering without resorting to physical injury.

"Arguably, therefore, much more systematic, government-sponsored threats and harassment delivered through cybertechnologies not only entail a situation of effective powerlessness, but may well inflict levels of anxiety, stress, shame and guilt amounting to 'severe mental suffering' as required for a finding of torture," he stated.

Later in February, the professor is set to present his report on psychological to the UN Human Rights Council in Switzerland's Geneva to share his concerns over "continuing development of psychological tortures and legal misconceptions about what conduct is prohibited by international treaty."