Torture in Light of APEC
Following the recent APEC summit and in light of the recent Prisoner Declaration the world is left wondering where prisoner rights played into APEC.
Not discussed among the APEC talks were the overwhelming and unresolved cases of torture from many of the countries represented. Most notably the host country, Australia. The hundreds of years of suffering endured by the Indigenous people of Australia speaks for itself, however Australia’s prisoners are a new breed of victim. In particular the case of Corey Brough, who’s case fits directly into many of the points made in the Prisoner Declaration. To put the act of torture into perspective:
Under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (Article 1 paragraph 1), torture is defined as:
“Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”
According to Webster’s Medical Dictionary, torture is:
“An act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person, for a purpose such as obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation or coercion, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind. Survivors of torture often suffer from physical and psychological symptoms and disabilities. There may be specific forms of physical injury including broken bones, neurological damage, and musculoskeletal problems. Torture may result in psychological symptoms of depression (most common), post-traumatic stress disorder, marked sleep disturbances and alterations in self-perceptions together with feelings of powerlessness, fear, guilt and shame.”
Under the Tokyo Declaration of 1975 torture is:
“The deliberate, systematic or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons acting alone or on the orders of any authority, to force another person to yield information, to make a confession, or for any other reason.”
Corey Brough in light of torture
Out of all the stories of prisoner abuse and neglect, one of the most remarkably documented is the case of Corey Brough, whose case was taken to the United Nations. At the age of sixteen Corey was transferred to an adult prison where he was left naked in solitary confinement with continuous artificial light for up to 72 hours. Corey’s case was taken to the United Nations, where the Human Rights Committee found in favour of Corey. Citing the fact that he has a mild learning disability and his status as an Aboriginal youth places him in the category of vulnerable, and his treatment within custody is contrary to the expectation of the United Nations. The United Nations found that Australia was in violation of articles 10 and 24 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Under the UN ruling, Australia is obligated to change their policies in order to ensure that this does not happen again, however no such action has been taken.