!! History Commons Alert, Exciting News
Profile: Theo van Boven
Positions that Theo van Boven has held:
- Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights
Theo van Boven was a participant or observer in the following events:
Theo van Boven, the UN director of reports on torture, expresses “serious concern” over “allegations of attempts to circumvent the absolute nature of the prohibition of torture and other forms of ill treatment in the name of countering terrorism, particularly in relation to the interrogation and conditions of detention of prisoners.” Although he does not mention the US by name, his remarks are evidently aimed at the Bush administration. “The absolute nature of the prohibition of torture and other forms of ill treatment means that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture,” van Boven stresses. “No executive, legislative, administrative, or judicial measure authorizing recourse to torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment can be considered as lawful under international law.”
[New York Times, 10/28/2004]
In his November 2004 report, “Torture, and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,” UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights (director of reports on torture), Theo van Boven, states, “A legal argument of necessity and self-defense, invoking domestic law, have recently been put forward, aimed at providing a justification to exempt officials suspected of having committed or instigated acts of torture against suspected terrorists from criminal liability.” Van Boven adds, “The condoning of torture is, per se, a violation of the prohibition of torture.”
[Inter Press Service, 11/11/2004]
UN Rapporteur on Torture Theo van Boven completes a 19-page study stating that international conventions apply to wars against terrorism in the same way they apply to conventional wars. The UN report, titled “Torture, and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,” says fighting terrorism provides no country with the justification to use torture or humiliate prisoners. It criticizes the treatment of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, but does not mention the US by name. Van Boven writes in the report that “the absolute nature of the prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment means that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability, or any other public emergency, may be invoked as justification for torture.” He denounces the detainment of “thousands of persons suspected of terrorism, including children, [who] have been… denied the opportunity to have legal status determined and prevented from having access to lawyers.” According to van Boven, the abuses that these detainees have been subjected to—stressful positions; sleep and light deprivation; exposure to extremes of heat, cold, noise and light; hooding; forced nudity; and intimidation by dogs—are all violations of the prohibition on torture and ill-treatment. “Whenever there are serious allegations of torture, investigations are absolutely necessary. And the results of these investigations should be made public because it’s absolutely a public affair,” he says. [Inter Press Service, 11/11/2004]
Receive weekly email updates summarizing what contributors have added to the History Commons database
Developing and maintaining this site is very labor intensive. If you find it useful, please give us a hand and donate what you can.
If you would like to help us with this effort, please contact us. We need help with programming (Java, JDO, mysql, and xml), design, networking, and publicity. If you want to contribute information to this site, click the register link at the top of the page, and start contributing.