Torture as an Interrogative Tactics

Written by Yashwardhan

From Lovely Professional University

Torcher as an interrogative lead leaves us with a controversial and very puzzling part of the human character and governance. Torture, the deliberate infliction of extreme pain, either physical or mental on a person has a long and checkered history, being used as a method of coercion interrogative, punishment, or coercive measures. The proponents could partly assert that torture as a last resort may be the only means to obtain information in overwhelming circumstances when the quickness of getting information is more imperative than those of our rights and our dignity image. They will find the operation of drones necessary to drive down the imminent threat or acquire the key intelligence for counterterrorism; for example, such as.

Torture is the carefully organized exposure of people to extreme physical or mental pain and suffering on the basis of the intention of data collection, inflicting punishment, or coercion.

Different types of Torture

This infliction can take various forms, including but not limited to:

Physical torture

Methods are applied like whipping, burning, electric shocks, sexual abuse, or by techniques to produce injuries or does harm to the body.

Psychological torture

Torture, which generally involves methods that generate agony, sensitivity or brain trauma, comprise things like deprivation of sensory organs, threats against the dear ones, existence of which that is not interrupted or uninterrupted interrogations.

Torture by proxy

It means a circumstance where an individual can be humiliated not directly, through the aid of other institutions or the conflicting of authorities.

The main characteristic of torture is the definite purpose of the dire pain infliction with the aim to extract some information or punishment or just applied to coerce. This motive points out the differences existing between coercion from the other side which deploys such influence or pressure on people but only delivers actions and behaviors. Meanwhile, in this kind of coercion, severe pain or suffering is directly inflicted.


The tortured question of how feasible the use of torture in interrogation measures is, gets complicated by the relationship to ethics, morals, and law, as well as what happens in practice.

Ethical and moral considerations: Many do this on the basis that torture is by the very nature aimed at harming and degrading the human person, which is a threat to human rights and dignity. The concerned party engaged in the deliberate and systematic infliction of severe suffering and pain ipso facto whether the accused act was serious or not by dropping our sense of values of justice, compassion and human dignity.


Whether torture is efficient for interrogation or not, remains one of the fundamental questions on torturing detainees. Proponents say, however, that the infliction of torture can result in useful information, while opponents claim the victim may merely say anything to alleviate pain, without speaking a truth, and thus, the acquired intelligence may not correct effective. Another thing to take into account when it comes to this injustice is that the ethical and legal restrictions of interrogators will mean the unreliability of the information gotten from the victim of the torture.

Legal frameworks: International Law categorically deems Torture a crime, undisputed, and any form of the use of it is outlawed by any means. Agreements like Geneva Convention and Convention Against Torture govern the world and impose regulations about state’s responsibility to deal with the fight against torture and punish it. The fact that torture is used in interrogation processes comes with the weight of two notions: firstly, it is ethically highly condemnable and secondly, it’s against the international law, which leaves many issues to be solved regarding who is to be accountable and what the actors will be limiting themselves to when it comes to the observance of such laws.

Long-term consequences

The role of the phenomenon being discussed in interrogation may entail long lasting psychological, social, and political impacts. It can siphon the power of the identify of the institutions, spur cycles of violence and damage ethical fibers of society. Notably, in torture happened during interrogation, these patterns can for individuals whose human rights have been discarded even they condoned hope leading for the establishment a climate with impunity human rights violations.


Most facing the idea that the efficiency and ethicality of alternative approaches to torture to disclose information in interrogation contexts is questionable. Among the alternatives are the bidirectional techniques, psychologic methods, and proven-based interrogation policies which encompass the human dignity while still provide evidences.

Historical perspective

Medieval Europe: During the Middle Ages, people were widely tortured in Europe as a way to gain confessions or to make the guilty finger the accomplice in a crime or obtain information from any accused. Ways such as the rack (distending the limbs of the victim), the strappado (tossing the prisoner ready hands), and the thumbscrew (crunching the fingers) used to be employed in courts.

Spanish Inquisition: The Spanish Inquisition (a Catholic institution that traces its origins back to the late 15th century) was considered one of the most effective ways of rooting out heresy and enforcing the religious orthodoxy by inflicting torture. Techniques like drowning, the strappado, and the enlistment to tools such as iron maidens and the rack were intensively utilized to extort guilty pleas from people considered guilty.

Colonial Period: When the colonial era took root, the European countries like the Great Britain, France and the Netherlands, had the tendency to employ torture as a means of control and the same ushered in interrogation. Such interaction was largely characteristic of the regions of Latin America, Africa, and Asia where the colonial authorities aimed not only to supress the resistance movements, but also to extract information from their own local peoples.

World War II: The Allies and the Axis used the systematic case of torture in WWII. What is dreaded of being known as Gestapo, the secret police of Nazi Germany, they forcefully used to abuse politicians, resistance fighters and soldiers during times of war. Except in Allied forces in which regard the USA and the UK are included in cases of physical cruelty methods during interrogation like water torturing and stress positions.

Evolution of Laws

The formulation of laws and norms that can be used to fight torture has been the result of a gradual enhancement of the self-awareness of the humanity involved in the practices and the consent of the inevitable violation of human rights as well as efforts to develop criteria and mechanisms for prevention and accountability.

Cold War Era: The Cold War times are known for widespread usage of torture by regimes and intelligence organizations for the purposes such as political subjugation and struggle over insurgents. Cases such as the employment of torture by authoritarian governments in Latin America like the military regimes of Chile, Argentina and Brazil, and the use of this tactic by the Soviet Union and its allies in the countries of Eastern Europe are examples of it.

Contemporary Times: Throughout the recent times, situations of using physical torture as a war interrogation weapon have been revealed in different conflict areas and countries around the globe. It can be noted that various state methods of control over terrorism, namely use of torture, as well as non-state actors including terrorist organizations and insurgent groups come into play.

Geneva Conventions (1949): The Geneva Conventions are a family of international treaties meeting the legal standard of humane treatment for civilians, POWs and other persons in the event of war. The Third Geneva Convention probably is the most important in terms of the rule allowing prisoners of war to be treated humanely and to utterly wipe out torture and other cruel method of treatment. It clearly includes POWs to be treated in the most humanitarian way, the torture of any kind physically and mentally is prohibited, and there shall be no use of coercion in order to achieve information.

United Nations Convention Against Torture (1984): The UN Convention Against Torture, as a landmark international treaty, defines to stop acts of torture or other intensions man, degrading or cruel treatment or excludes punishment. The convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1984 and its objective is to define the torture as well as indicating all the efficient standards and approaches for states parties to use for the purpose of prevention, investigation, and prosecution of torture. Furthermore, it is made illegal by this provision to eject, send back or rendition (extradite) of person to countries where there is such a strong evidence that they will be tortured.

These treaties and protocols naturally constitute landmarks in the worldwide movement aiming at doing away with cruel and inhumane treatment and committing to human rights law. They express a broad understanding of the zero-tolerance approach by states to torture in the legally international framework and specifically define their responsibilities to others for prevention and punishment of torture cases. Furthermore, they implement monitoring and accountability instruments, including the mandatory assignment of national mechanisms for the elimination of torture and the mission of the United Nations Committee against Torture to evaluate the state parties’ obedience to the Convention.

Legal and ethical considerations

International Laws

United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT): Passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1984, the CAT is an all encompassing treaty that abhors torture and requires those member States to defend such heinous acts and conduct a thorough investigation. It forbids any form of torture with no exceptions and obliges states to prosecute such acts (if they were committed) by ensuring that a prompt and impartial investigation is done to deal with the perpetrators. More importantly, the CAT creates the Committee Against Torture, which supervises the state compliance with the convention through the mechanism of regular reviews and reports using this instrument.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): The UN General Assembly adopted the ICCPR in 1966 and, in stipulating the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, it became one of the major international human rights treaties. The Convention on Torture obliges the States Parties to provide adequate protection to individuals within their jurisdiction from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as requiring them to take necessary and proper investigative and remedial measures in relation to the claims of torture.

Geneva Conventions: The Geneva Conventions, a series of treaties adopted soon after the World War II’s termination, represent the main legal regulation by which the protection of civilians in conflicts, prisoners of war, as well as the individuals in uncertain circumstances is ensured. Inferring to the Geneva Convention of the Third, the act of torture and cruelties is strictly not allowed to the prisoners of war. Instead, they have direct right to the humane treatment, and meanness and exposure to reprisals and violence is not allowed at all.

In the country of India several laws have been conceived to discriminate and talk naught about the torture and any other kind of unfair treatment.

Constitution of India

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution contains the most important fundamental rights of the citizens of the country and the right of a person against torture, all forms of cruel inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

The Indian supreme court has interpreted article 21 to provide also the right to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and consequently to favour cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and consequently to favour the international practice of the prohibition of torture.

Indian Penal Code (IPC)

Clause 330 of IPC constrains a person to not have the signs of insanity or misery intending to take secret the pertinent data or information, which is penalized with imprisonment or fine.

Like Section 331 of the Act, the IPC also humanly mentions hurting the other for this purpose and penalizes it with higher repercussions.

Section 342 of the IPC criminalizes wrongful detention with imprisonment and fine option under import section.

An individual taking another individual hostage or forcible admitting an individual to a confined place or compelling property return with a threat of harm uncompromisingly faces a conviction and is likely to be imprisoned and fined under section 348 of the IPC.

Besides, there are some sections that implement the IPC which are, relating to assault, grievous hurt, and wrongful restraint, that are also appropriate for this harmful situation.

Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993: Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993:

This proposed bill specifies the setting up of State Human Rights Commissions and amongst them, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to serve as an institute whose purpose is to shield and promote human rights, by investigating complaints on torture or maltreatment.

NHRC has, essentially, power to investigate into allegations of human rights abuse like torture for example, and appropriate corrective and accountability measures to intervene.

Interrogation by using torture is an effective memo for gathering intelligence and contributing to public safety.

The empirical studies and cases of torture efficiency in getting data are hardly unequivocal as they often play to the strength of one’s standpoint. However, there are several declared ethical and human rights principles that prevent our country from controlling experiments on the efficiency of torture, thus the major part of our evidence is based on anecdotal accounts, recommendations from historical experiences and operations that are conducted in the real world.

Limited Effectiveness: A lot of of the experts say that dealing with painful strikes are inefficiency to coax true information from the person. The confessions of interrogated subjects during torture may lack credibility, as they may seek to provide information to bring a torturer’s actions to an end or placate their torturer, making intelligence obtained suspect. The research shows that the non-coercive methods, such as the rapport-building with the suspected and just the rapport-based strategies, are the most useful in getting significant and accurate information about the cases of suspects.

Historical Examples: We can bring forth different historical experiences through the likes of authoritarian regimes, colonial days, and time of conflict which can give great insight to the shortcomings of torture as a means of interrogation. Cases where state torture were in widespread use, for example during the Spanish Inquisition, totalitarian regimes always ended up with a lot of torture victims who pretended to be innocent, often they produced false confessions and then these resulted to unreliable intelligence.

Case Studies: Several case studies have examined the use of torture in specific contexts, such as counterterrorism operations or military interrogations. These case studies often highlight the ethical dilemmas, legal controversies, and practical challenges associated with the use of torture. They also underscore the importance of adherence to international law and human rights standards in interrogations. Ethical and Legal Considerations: Beyond its effectiveness, the use of torture raises profound ethical and legal concerns. The absolute prohibition of torture under international law, including the United Nations Convention Against Torture, reflects a global consensus on the illegitimacy of torture under any circumstances. Furthermore, the normalization of torture undermines the rule of law, erodes trust in institutions, and perpetuates cycles of violence. Several Psychological Factors Trauma: Individuals subjected to torture often experience severe psychological trauma, including fear, anxiety, dissociation, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This trauma can impair cognitive functioning, memory recall, and decision-making abilities, leading to confusion, disorientation, and difficulty providing accurate information. Traumatized individuals may also be more susceptible to suggestion and manipulation, further compromising the reliability of the information they provide.

Suggestibility: Interrogation of certain behaviours or approvals could be possible to be silence in the torture process due to the induction of suggestibility condition. Torture can make them more receptive to the leading questions, coercion, and manipulation by interrogators. When under pressure, people tend to respond by providing the information that they think their tormentors want to hear. Alternatively, people may simply make up the stories to ease their suffering. This too heightened suggestibility may hence turn to the distribution of fake or distorted statistics that impair the reliability of information gained as a result of torture.

Desire to end suffering: The main reason why people under torture often act is to terminate the suffering and to make them feel better or stop the continuous suffering they are undergoing. Therefore, persons subjected to this kinds situation often say anything including providing the wrong information and nodding to statements they did not actually do. Such urge to alleviate suffering may make them present erroneous or disputable jokes, thus the accuracy of information comes last after the instant relief of the viewers.

Alternatives to Torture

Rapport-building: Rapport-building methods rest on appropriate action of the law enforcement officer produce ring a favourable, trusting relationship with the one being interrogated. Such relation can be hence built by way of active listening, empathy, respect and nonverbal communication approach. Establishing such a secure and risk-free framework would allow interrogators to create a co-operative environment, make the process of interrogation more likely to elicit true information and go in the direction of psychological security for the person being questioned.

Cognitive interviewing: Cognitive interviewing is one of the systematic techniques which is very useful to produce correct and full information by using different methods of questions and the line of the interview. This procedure includes the application of particular techniques (as for example, such as open-ended inquiry, stimulating free recalling, restoring the context, and minimizing the distractors). These methods aim to maximize the process of memories recalling and to minimize the process of memories distorting. Through a well-organized information retrieval approach that does not force people to remember but rather helps them uncover accurate and detailed narratives, cognitive interviewing can avoid coercion or biasing questions which, otherwise, may have been conduct a personal test.

Positive reinforcement: We reinforce positive behaviour in a recourse of imparting motivation or reward for disclosure of cooperation and truthful information. It brings forth the idea of dispensing privileges that could change the whole atmosphere of the place, including granting of clauses like access to amenities and setting limitations to punishment sentences, or helping criminal cases go easy in the courts. Among some of positive reinforcement options are both cooperation and compliance which can result in information from people being provided truthfully, with no need of force or intimidation.

Empathy-based approaches: Empathy directed interrogation techniques are intentionally aimed at managing an empathetic act which includes the demonstration of empathy, understanding and compassion towards the individual under questioning. This means that their experience should be understand, and them not minimized. It is also important to let them know that you care deeply. Interrogation can be made more effective through the establishment of a cohesive bond based on empathy and understanding. This information vibe allows the interrogator to build a conducive environment for communication, encourages cooperation, and creates trust between the interrogator and as well as the defendant.

Cultural sensitivity: The interrogators have to be trained to differentiate between and value different cultures norms. They should identify, recognize and respect different cultural norms and values when interrogating people from diverse cultural backgrounds. This can mean acknowledging cultural varieties, dealing with language concerns, and bettering the way of going, which also avoids the behaviours being or some practices perceived to be disrespectful or offensive. Culture sensibility and awareness are among the main parts of the interrogation. Through those steps investigators can get respect and trust of the individuals from different cultures.

The Advantages and Limitations of these alternatives compared to torture Advantages

Ethical and Moral Considerations: Unlike alternative interrogation methods which are guided by the concepts of rights, aid, fairness, and ethics, they deprive human beings of their personalities and dignity. Unlike torture, this approach targets the sources of fear and coerciveness in order to protect the individual’s integrity and maintain their well-being while carrying out the investigation. By respecting such basic ethical principles, like the prohibition of a torture and the promotion of the human submission, those other veering’s illustrate the dedication to judge and human rights.

Reliability of Information: Alternative ways of questioning, on the other hand, are usually better applied in cases when one hopes to get the same amount of correct and verifiable data than resorting to torture. With the employment of those methods during interrogation, trust, reconciliation and cooperation will be created; thereby, the interrogators will receive truthful account of the information. People will likely give out complete and precise information directly and frankly in this way when they believe that they are being listened to, understood, and treated correctly, with the result being more accurate and useful intelligence outcomes.

Long-Term Effectiveness: Alternation of approaches for interrogations helps to create bonding and optimistic connections between interrogators and those who are questioned. The interrogator’s function is, in most cases, to develop a base which in turn facilitates a long-term partnership and results in ongoing communication between them. This will continue to enable a partnership between the disciplines, to also provide a platform for cooperation, communication and intelligence gathering therefore enhancing the effectiveness of the intelligence process.

Legal Compliance and Accountability: In addition to scrutiny of standard interrogation methods to ensure that they comply with international laws prohibiting the use of torture or other cruel manner of treatment, alternative techniques would be essential. Through the adherence to the requirements of the law and proper procedural safeguards, torturers protecting themselves from presenting of the counter-arguments, putting evidence into question or prison for the implementation of the coercive interrogations. Also, by encouraging transparency, monitoring, and accountability in the interrogation techniques, the alternative methods help in eradicating human rights abuses and enlightening those who commit offenses.


Time and Resource Constraints: The alternative techniques of interrogation usually need more time and much more skilled and qualified staff unlike torture methods. Interrogating techniques like building rapport, cognitive interview, and using empathy-based approaches necessitate well trained interrogators, and provide adequate resources as these activities are complex. For urgent and simple cases, or when resources are limiting, interrogators might experience trouble employing the techniques successfully.

Susceptibility to Deception: It cannot be denied that the idea of using torturous interrogation techniques may facilitate the practice of concealing or even manipulating information which is often brought in by the perpetrators of crime. The goal is to reach some sort of understanding and to build up confidence, but the interrogator must remain cautious for trickery, lying, or attempts to hinder or affect the course of questioning during the inquiry. Identifying falsehoods and differentiating between the true and deceptive data entities can be hard because it needs more expertise, involving staff training and more resources for the task.

Cultural and Linguistic Barriers: Alternative interrogation approaches at their turn might have problems in the countries with different cultures and languages. The ability to touch cultural differences, norms, and communication styles, as well as fluently speak the tongues spoken by the individuals under questioning will be a necessary feature for interrogators. It requires cultural sensitivity, knowing languages, and understanding the nuances between cultures to deal with cultural and language barriers. This can at times be a challenge in interrogation assessments involving people of diverse cultural backgrounds.

Resistance and Non-Cooperation: Persons being questioned are the most likely to do that and often they simply resist and refuse to cooperate when dealing with other technique for interrogation, some of them think that interrogators are dangerous and against their benefits. Working with the inner circle or the people who are difficult to approach or work with sometimes is seldom easy and it takes time, distance, patience, creativity and positive approaches. The elite may meet with their challenges in the issue of individuals refusal to talk or resentment for instance which makes dialogue effective information gathering difficult.

Psychological impact on Interrogators

Moral Injury: The very conduct of participating in acts of torture may generate moral injury which comes forth, when individuals get involved in something that violates the moral or ethical convictions of theirs. Interrogators are prone to become regretful, ashamed, and experience moral distress due to their addition in the acts like coercion or other sort of violations done. As a result of a witnessing or participating in an orientation that are unethical and infringes on human rights, a person might end up experiencing the loss of his/her sense of ethics and suffer from psychological wounds even after the occupation.

Desensitization: Longer periods spent on torturing suspects seem to increase the chances of mental distancing of inquisitors from people’s sufferings. Thus, they may feel indifference, become numb, and cease to show sympathy. In an extended period, interrogators may get into a habit of such terrible events and therefore perceive detainees as enemies or adversaries instead of people, equal humans like them. This may only end up with the interrogator’s emotional well-being getting lower and their relationships with others might become all the harder. Empathizing and connecting with others might become a struggle.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Torturers can suffer from PTSD after being exposed to the traumatic episode of using various interrogation methods to extract information. Components of PTSD like intrusive thoughts or memories, nightmares, flashbacks, hyper vigilance, avoidance behaviours and emotional numbing are some of the ones that can occur. The long-term consequences of being a part of psychological torment on interrogators’ mental health may hinder their functioning in daily life in school, work and relationships. They may additionally suffer emotionally and could become a burden to those around them.

Guilt and Shame: Interrogators can go through a dehumanization process by being constantly in a position to do inhumane things related to torture or abuse. They may experience the guilt and shame connected to their involvement in these acts. Possibly these feelings appear irresponsibly because someone realizes there is an ethical and moral background of such torture, but this gives a sense of personal responsibility to the harms inflicted on the detainees. Introspection and humiliation can produce a distorted self-perception, the feeling of culpability, and the easy adoption of self-destructive behaviours, which eventually may make the psychological sufferings of torture even worse.

Psychological Distress: Being able to do something towards torturing someone can not only cause a lot of psychological distress like anxiousness, depression, and none emotional regulation but also severe mental problems. With interrogations, the mental toll of such factors as intrusive thoughts, rumination and a range of anxiety states which are linked to the events taking place during interrogations become heightened. Torture causes an impact of psychological dimension, which damages mental state affecting both negative aspects of person’s life and physical health in a negative way.

Case Studies

Abu Ghraib scandal (2003-2004):

Abu Ghraib scandal occurred when the American soldiers who were stationed in Abu Ghraib prison of Iraq, an Iraq war installation, tortured and mistreated the detainees. The acts of which, those were hidden, and later made public through photographs and reports, included physical and sexual abuse, humiliation, torture, as well as other kinds of maltreatment.

Snapshots exposed detainees undergoing numerous forms of mistreatment, like hooding, forced nudity, sexually abusing, beating up and using dogs to scare and as a tool to degrade and demoralise them. Carelessness caused anger and fury all around the world and launched investigations, prosecutions, calls for justice, among other things.

The brutality at Abu Ghraib was explained by an interconnecting chain of circumstances, like the absence of proper training, leadership blunder, cultural naivety, and no care for the process of audit or admittance. This became a clear indicator that human rights must be maintained and also integrity practices of interrogation methods and military missions be at the centre.

CIA’s use of waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques (2002-2008): CIA’s use of waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques (2002-2008):

In the United States CIA period following the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes, techniques of extreme interrogation (EITs) were introduced by the CIA to procure information from the suspected terrorists and detainees. These techniques involved applying water from on the surface of the skin, sleeplessness, imposition of strenuous postures, sensory deprivation, and other means of coercive interrogation.

The waterboarding, for instance, was one of the most bizarre types of tortures that generated overwhelming criticism and controversy. It is the practice of the interrogator drowning a prisoner periodically in the water over the face which creates an irksome feeling and panic sensation. Waterboarding being also called torture by international law and human rights organizations and legal experts having the issue of it was the source of unanimous condemnation

The CIA’s waterboarding and other EITs led to big ethical, lawful and ethical questions. Critics said these methods were just Meant to inflict pain and humble human dignity. They were also categorized as abusive treatment, which is prohibited by the laws that protect all humans against such kind of abuse. Furthermore, the contentiousness of the program was attributed to its unquotable sources, and the reasonable probability that it might have eroded the country’s integrity and moral authority.

Different ways of Whistle Blowing


The paper will focus on the torture as one of the interrogation methods that were and currently are allowed in some countries, where it will be shown with its history and legal and ethical aspects, as well as the psychological effect that it sometimes has on both torturers and detainees. It discusses new methods of interrogation including the how-to strategy (questions, side talk etc.), pure interviewing and the proposal of incentives and stressing the advantages and disadvantages of these techniques in relation to torture. The paper also deconstructs some specific situations where torture happened or was accused of, just including the notorious Abu Ghraib scandal and the CIA’s utilization of waterboarding, so to redirect attention to the great ethics, legal, and moral questions associated with torture in interrogation techniques. Principally, the article conveys the necessity of observing human rights, dignity, and the rule of law no matter the circumstances, which it suggests through the non-coercive and humane means regarding information-collection method so as to become accountable and respectful of ethical codes.

The present paper, devoted to consideration of violence as an interrogation method, is intended to examine within the historical context, its implications and contradictions in a legal and ethical aspect, as well as assess its practical outcome, psychological consequences, as well as issues with the alternative approaches. A paper is presented in a clear structure, the whole range of the subject is examined in detail, and some viewpoints concerning this problem, as well as a complexity of the problem are given.

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