Readers know that I don't buy for a second that the techniques used against many prisoners by president Bush were somehow not torture or torture-lite or "enhanced interrogation." But let us concede for a moment that everything authorized by Bush and Cheney evaded the definition of torture as "severe mental or physical pain or suffering." What do the Geneva Conventions say about acts of inhuman treatment that do not rise to the level of torture?
1. Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article I, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.
In particular, the obligations contained in articles 10, 11, 12 and 13 shall apply with the substitution for references to torture of references to other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
2. The provisions of this Convention are without prejudice to the provisions of any other international instrument or national law which prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or which relates to extradition or expulsion. That makes Article 12 applicable to acts "which do not amount to torture as defined in article I."
Article 12 Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.
If the United States continues to refuse to investigate these very credible and indeed confirmed acts of torture or even "other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture", it is in violation of Geneva. I'm not sure whether the various reports on these abuses, culminating in the Senate Armed Services Committee Report, legally qualify.
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