Months after being denied access to Azerbaijan’s places of detention, the head of the United Nation’s Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) announced Friday that her four-member delegation had successfully conducted investigations of Azerbaijani prisons, police stations and investigative isolation units.
As conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere pushed the number of refugees to 13 million last year, the international community is struggling to shoulder the humanitarian responsibility of protecting those fleeing violence and persecution in their homelands.
“Enhanced interrogation”: the George W. Bush administration bureaucrats who coined the term had perfect pitch. The apparatchiks of Kafka’s Castle would have admired the grayness of the euphemism. But while it sounds like some new kind of focus group, it turns out it was just anodyne branding for good old-fashioned torture.
The timing was inadvertently impeccable as two stinging reports on harsh interrogation techniques - by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the United States and former military regimes in Brazil - were released on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the U.N. Convention Against Torture.
In a country where civil liberties remain the prerogative of the powerful and wealthy, the Lebanese gay scene is to be treaded carefully.