‘Internment’ by John McGuffin (1973)

Appendix I

A Committee of three Privy Councillors, under the chairmanship of Lord Parker, was appointed on 16 November 1971 by the British Prime Minister "to consider whether, and if so in what respects, the procedures currently authorized for the interrogation of persons suspected of terrorism and for their custody while subject to interrogation require amendment."

1.  Amnesty International begs to present this memorandum to your Committee for the following reasons:

(i)  One of the objects of Amnesty International, as laid down in its constitution, is "to secure throughout the world the observance of the provisions of Article 5 ... of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," which provides that "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

(ii)  In the ten years of its existence Amnesty International has observed with horror that there has been a growing tendency throughout the world for governments to authorize or condone the use of torture or of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; and such treatment is most commonly inflicted not upon prisoners who have been charged and convicted of an offence, but on suspects in the course of interrogation, in order to obtain information. There are several countries where, within a period of a few years, the use of torture, at the outset sporadic and exceptional, has become an invariable routine part of any interrogation.

(iii)  The purpose of your Committee is, so far as we are aware, unique, for although judicial or quasi-judicial tribunals have often been established to consider whether ill-treatment has in fact taken place in the course of interrogation, it has always been stated or implied that such treatment, if it were found to have taken place, was wrong, and that disciplinary or other measures would, if necessary, be taken to prevent its recurrence. For the first time, however, a committee has been established to decide not whether ill-treatment has taken place, but whether it should take place in the future.

(iv)  The consequences of your deliberations win extend far beyond the confines of Northern Ireland or even those of the United Kingdom and its dependencies, and in saying this we are particularly mindful of the composition of your Committee and the high respect with which the English judiciary is universally regarded. The approval by your Committee of any of the measures characterized by the Compton Report as physical ill-treatment would be taken throughout the world as a statement by the English judiciary that torture was not only permissible but desirable. Any statement of this kind would in our view be profoundly retrogressive, and would place a mantle of respectability and legality on a practice which has long been outlawed by civilized nations.

2.  We may assume that your Committee will test any interrogation procedures that may be brought to court attention by asking four questions of them:

(i)  Is their use harmful to the suspect, and if so, to what degree?

(ii)  Is their use immoral?

(iii)  Is their use lawful, having regard both to United Kingdom internal law and to the international conventions to which the United Kingdom is a party? and

(iv)  To what extent, if at all, has it been shown that it is helpful to the authorities to use such methods, having regard both to the amount of reliable information obtained and to the wider military and political consequences?

3.  It is clear that the procedures associated with "interrogation in depth" described in paragraphs 43 to 105 of the Compton Report must have been painful and frightening to those subjected to them. It is significant that no less than 7 out of the 11 men who made complaints of physical ill-treatment during the period of intensive questioning were found to be suffering from physical injuries by the medical officers who examined them on their departure from the Interrogation Centre or at Crumlin Jail (Compton Report, paragraphs 79, 80-82, 85, 88 and 89). We consider it unreal to suggest that men might he kept at the wall for many hours without being subjected to direct physical violence by their guards. Moreover, the procedures were designed to disorientate and break down the mind of the suspect by sensory deprivation and the infliction of physical injury was ancillary to this purpose. We understand that your Committee will be receiving medical evidence relating to the serious physical and psychological injury that may be caused by the use of the methods of interrogation described in the Compton Report, and we do not seek to rehearse such evidence in this memorandum.

4.  We have attempted to answer the three remaining questions referred to above. In paragraphs 5(i)-(ii) we have expressed our belief that it is immoral to use such methods; in paragraphs 6(i)-(ix) we have shown that the use of any physical ill-treatment during interrogation is both illegal and contrary to the public policy of the United Kingdom. In paragraphs 7(i)-(xiii) we have considered whether there is evidence that there is even a marginal intelligence gain to be derived from the use of physical ill-treatment. We have reached the conclusion that there probably is not, and that its use is both politically and militarily harmful to the cause it is intended to serve.

5 (i)  It is said that the physical ill-treatment described in the Compton Report is less severe than the methods of ill-treatment used by other regimes in other countries. But this should not serve to disguise or blind us to the true nature of the procedures described in the Compton Report. There is a danger that even by considering the procedures at length we become anaesthetized to the degree to which they constitute an offence against the person. It is a form of torture to force a man to stand at the wall in the posture described for many hours in succession, in some cases for days on end, progressively exhausted and driven literally almost out of his mind by being subjected to continuous noise, and being deprived of food, of sleep, and even of light.

5 (ii)  But the moral impropriety of these techniques principally derives not from their physical effects at all, but from the fact that they constitute a grave assault on the human mind. It is clear that the purpose and effects of these techniques is to disorientate and break down the mind by sensory deprivation. If we regard the physical ill-treatment as merely a means to achieve the same effect as would be achieved by the forcible injection of an hallucinatory drug or of a drug designed to break down and disorientate the mind, we begin to appreciate the true nature of the moral offence committed. It is because we regard the deliberate destruction of a man's ability to control his own mind with revulsion that we reserve a special place in our catalogue of moral crimes for techniques of thought control and brainwashing. Any interrogation procedure which has the purpose or effect of causing a malfunction or breakdown of a man's mental processes constitutes as grave an assault on the inherent dignity of the human person as more traditional techniques of physical torture.

5 (iii)  The torture and ill-treatment of prisoners has, in recent years, become a matter of major concern to international organisations such as Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Committee of the Red Cross. They have repeatedly drawn attention to the tendency of some governments to ill-treat and torture prisoners. This question has also been taken up actively by the Churches. The Christian Churches held a Consultation representative of all the Christian Churches in 1970 in Baden, Austria. The Conclusions of this Consultation deal specifically with "torture" and "ill-treatment of prisoners" at pages 55 and 56 of the English version of the Conclusions. These Conclusions, inter alia, declare:

"There is today a growing concern at the frequency with which some authorities resort to the torture or inhuman treatment of political opponents or prisoners held by them.... There exists at the present time, in certain regions of the world, regimes using systematic methods of torture carried out in the most refined way. Torture itself becomes contagious.... The expediency of the moment should never silence the voice of the Church Authorities when condemnation of inhuman treatment is called for."

(Report of the Consultation on Christian Concern for Peace sponsored by the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Commission on Justice and Peace jointly, held at Baden, Austria 1970, published by SODEPAX Geneva).

This Report also draws attention to the United Nations "Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners" and requests that "acts of brutality or inhuman treatment of prisoners should always he reported to the highest Church authorities."

5 (iv)  The World Conference on Religion and Peace (Kyoto, October 1970) which was a Conference representative of all the world's religions, also drew attention to the torture and ill-treatment of prisoners. In its findings it declared:

"The torture and ill-treatment of prisoners which is carried out with the authority of some governments constitute not only a crime against humanity, but also a crime against the moral law."
(Findings of the World Conference on Religion and Peace, page 31).

5 (v)  Morality and law are inextricably joined, and the belief that the use of ill-treatment for the purposes of interrogation is immoral is enshrined in both the municipal law of Northern Ireland and in the international conventions to which the United Kingdom is a party. It is to those that we now turn.

6 (i)  We list below the main rules of the internal law of Northern Ireland which have bearing upon interrogation procedures. There is no lawful justification for the commission of those acts characterized as ill-treatment in paragraphs 92-96 of the Compton Report, nor, so far as we know, has any legal justification ever been advanced. Prima facie all those persons who committed or who aided or abetted or counselled or procured the commission of those acts are guilty of one or more of the offences specified below and of the sorts of assault, battery and conspiracy.

(a)  A person is guilty of an assault if he unlawfully displays force against another in such a way that he intentionally creates in the mind of that person the belief that force is about to be used against him;

(b)  a person is guilty of battery if he intentionally uses unlawful force against another;

(c)  assault occasioning actual bodily harm is contrary to the provisions of s.47 of the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861. "Actual bodily harm" includes any hurt or injury calculated to interfere with health or comfort, and includes an injury to a person's state of mind: R - v Miller (1954), 2 Q.B.282; unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm upon any other person is contrary to the provisions of s.20 of that Act;

(d)  the intentional application of force to the person of another without his consent, unless authorized by law, also amounts to the civil wrong of battery, entitling the victim to compensation. Even to touch a person without his consent or some other lawful reason is actionable. "It is also probably a battery to project heat, light, noise or vapours onto another person in such manner as to cause physical injury or personal discomfort" (Salmond on the Law of Torts, 15th ed., p.158). The act of putting another person in reasonable fear or apprehension of an immediate battery by means of an act amounting to a threat to commit a battery amounts to an actionable assault. It is actionable conspiracy when two or more persons combine to commit an assault or battery upon another.
     It is right to point out that it is possible that the men who themselves physically enforced the procedures described in the Compton Report in August 1971 might be able to avail themselves of the defence that they were acting in accord with superior orders if they reasonably believed that what they were doing was lawful. There is an obiter dictum of Willes J. in Keighley - v. - Bell (1866), 4 F.&F., 763 at 790, that such a defence probably exists in English law, but this has never been decided; and we would suggest that the better view is that superior orders do not provide a defence but in appropriate cases would serve to mitigate punishment. In any event such a defence would not avail the senior officers who gave such orders nor would it be available in any civil proceedings.

6 (ii)  Any interrogation procedures which depend upon the use or threat of force or the causation of bodily harm by depriving the suspect of food, sleep, or light, or subjecting him to an excess of noise, will therefore be unlawful according to the existing law of Northern Ireland. It is impossible to point to any doctrine of common law in justification of such procedures. Nor does there exist any statute, or order or regulation made under the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland), 1922, which can be invoked as legitimizing interrogation of this kind. Indeed it is doubtful whether any order or regulation made under that Act which purported to authorize the use of ill-treatment for the purpose of interrogation would be valid. We do not doubt that the legal power to arrest, detain or intern a citizen carries with it the implied right to exert reasonable force where that is necessary to make the arrest, detention or internment effective. And a prison or detention centre cannot be operated without some restrictive disciplinary measures. But the power to arrest or detain does not carry with it the right to use or threaten to use force, or to inflict bodily harm for any other purpose.

6(iii)  Not only are such interrogation procedures prohibited by the internal law of Northern Ireland but the United Kingdom is also a party to a number of international legal instruments which apply to interrogation procedures. The most important of these in the current situation is the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, because it alone has an adjudication mechanism and can investigate and determine whether there has been a violation of the Convention and can in effect review the domestic legislation of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom, which ratified the Convention in 1951, undertook by Article 32 (4) to regard as binding upon it any decision of the Committee of Ministers. Article 3 of the Convention provides that

"No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

6 (iv)  It is important to note that although Article 15 (1) of. the Convention provides that in time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation, any contracting power may take measures derogating from its obligations under the Convention, Article 15 (2) specifies that no derogation from Article 3 can be made under this provision. Article 3 represents an absolute minimum standard of civilized behaviour and treatment from which not even war can justify departure.

6 (v)  Whether or not it is right that the procedures characterized by the Compton Report as ill-treatment could fairly be described as a form of torture – and, in the submission of Amnesty International they do amount to a form of torture – it is clear beyond argument that they constitute degrading treatment within the meaning of the Convention. It is significant that the United Kingdom made a proposal for additions to the original draft texts of the Convention which sought to apply Article 3 explicitly to particular types of ill-treatment including "imprisonment with such an excess of light, darkness, noise or silence as to cause mental suffering" (see J. E. S. Fawcett, The Application of the European Convention of Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 1969), pp 34-5.)

6 (vi)  It is difficult to envisage how it would be possible to subject a man to interrogation procedures which were in effect a limited or restricted form of the procedures described in the Compton Report without at the same time degrading him. Procedures whose purpose is to destroy a man's ability to control his own mind must serve to degrade him. To countenance the use of any such restricted or limited forms of ill-treatment would be to countenance serious breaches of the European Convention.

6 (vii)  The United Kingdom is not only a party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5 of which is recited in paragraph 1(i) of this memorandum, but has also signed, although not ratified, the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 10 of which provides that

"All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person."

6 (viii)  Article 3 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the treatment of Prisoners of War (1949) provides that

"In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties ... persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by ... detention ... shall in all circumstances be treated humanely ...

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a)  violation to life and person, in particular ... cruel treatment and torture ...
(c)  Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment."

It is strongly arguable that this Article applies to the present conflict in Northern Ireland, since it is an "armed conflict not of an international character," and this is apparently the view of Her Majesty's Government, who in s.2(d) of their Note on Interrogation set out in paragraph 46 of the Compton Report, appear to accept that Article 3 applies to "civil disturbances". If that be the case, it is also arguable that, if we are correct in our view that the procedures described in the Compton Report constitute a form of torture,[1] those who carried them out are guilty of an offence against the Geneva Conventions Act, 1937, punishable with imprisonment for 14 years. This Act made it an offence under the law of the United Kingdom for any person, whatever his nationality, whether inside or outside the United Kingdom, to commit a grave breach of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, 1949. Such breaches include torture or inhuman treatment or wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.

6 (ix)  Finally, and this will no doubt weigh heavily in your deliberations, although Article 17 of the Geneva Convention does not apply to the present conflict in Northern Ireland, it would apply to all cases of declared war or any other armed conflict which might arise between the United Kingdom and any other party to the Convention. This Article provides that

"No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind."

The Geneva Conventions Act was enacted by the United Kingdom Parliament to enable the Geneva Conventions to be ratified by the United Kingdom, and ratification was effected in 1958. The legislators must have appreciated in 1957, and it must have been appreciated by the United Kingdom when it signed the Convention in August 1949, that in times of war there is a pressing need to obtain information from captured soldiers, information upon which the very survival of the State and the outcome of the war might depend, and yet nevertheless this restriction upon the conduct of any future war was accepted. It would be highly unsatisfactory if the United Kingdom were to tolerate a lower standard of conduct towards its own citizens than it accepts, as a matter of public policy, it should display to citizens of other countries with whom it may be at war.

7 (i)  The only argument adduced by those in the United Kingdom who advocate the use of physical ill-treatment during interrogation is one of expediency, and runs along the following lines: the authorities are, in effect, engaged in a war against terrorism; terrorism must be defeated; the lives and property of innocent people must be protected and the rule of law must be restored; a continuous supply of tactical information relating to the identity of the enemy and the location of his weapons is vital to achieve these ends, and cannot be obtained without the use of physical ill-treatment; this may be illegal, it may, in the eyes of many, be immoral, it may inflame one's political enemies and alienate many of those who were previously uncommitted, but its military value is established, and that alone serves to justify its use.

7 (ii)  It is Amnesty International's contention that expediency cannot in any event justify the use of physical ill-treatment to obtain information, and we have set this out in paragraphs 5 and 6 above. But we have also considered whether it is, in fact, expedient or necessary to use physical ill-treatment to obtain information. In order to do this we shall consider whether the use of physical ill-treatment in interrogation procedures does in fact produce a greater flow of reliable information than is produced by interrogation procedures which do not involve physical ill-treatment, and secondly, whether the political effects of the use of physical ill-treatment make it more difficult for the authorities to defeat terrorism and to achieve a lasting political settlement.

7 (iii)  The use of physical ill-treatment during interrogation in Northern Ireland has been explicitly or implicitly defended by reference to the increased flow of intelligence since these methods were introduced. It is said that as a result of these methods the number of wanted men arrested, and the quantities of arms, ammunition and explosives seized, have all been far greater during the three and a half months since 9 August 1971 than they were during the first seven months of this year.

7 (iv)  These facts do not in themselves demonstrate that there has been any marginal intelligence gain as a result of the use of physical ill-treatment during interrogation. The validity of an argument of the kind advanced can be challenged on the following grounds:

(a)  During the period after the re-introduction of internment on the 9 August 1971 a far larger number of people were arrested and interrogated than during the first part of the year. One could expect that the greater the number of people interrogated the more information would be obtained, and it is therefore highly probably that there would have been a dramatic increase in the supply of information after the 9 August 1971 whether or not those interrogated were subjected to physical ill-treatment;

(b)  For the reasons set out in paragraphs 7(vii) to 7(xii) below, it is quite possible that if those detained had been skilfully interrogated by methods which do not involve the use of physical ill-treatment, or the threat that it might be used, the amount of reliable information obtained might have been even greater;

(c)  Only 14 of those arrested were subjected to interrogation in depth; the total figures of intelligence gained do not reflect upon the value, if any, of the intelligence provided by this small group.

7 (v)  One may expect that those who were actually responsible for the interrogation in which physical ill-treatment was used would believe that any information obtained by these methods could not have been obtained in any other way. The following considerations may be relevant in determining the weight that should be attached to such evidence. Firstly, it is quite common that when someone has obtained an objective by one method, he will tend to believe that it could not have been obtained by any other; secondly, the men concerned may be unversed in more skilful types of interrogation procedures; thirdly, and most important of all, for reasons which may be clear in the light of paragraph 7(ix) below, once an interrogation involving the use of physical ill-treatment has been started the prospects of obtaining information from the suspect by any other means are, and will appear to the interrogator to be, very slight. If reliable information is eventually obtained by these means the interrogator will therefore tend to believe that it could not have been obtained in any other way.

7 (vi)  – We have searched for any reasoned justification from authorities in other countries in support of the contention that the use of physical ill-treatment during interrogation leads to a marginal intelligence gain. The only material that we have found is a report produced by a M. Wuillaume, a senior French servant, made in 1955 at the instance of the French Government to enquire into allegations of torture during interrogation in Algeria. The techniques of interrogation which he found to be prevalent far exceeded in their inhumanity any of those mentioned in the Compton Report. M. Wuillaume in the course of his Report stated, "I myself am in no position to assert that these practices were effective and am compelled to rely on the statements of those who assured me of this and who, it should be noted, were highly thought of by their superiors." Thus he was not prepared to say on the evidence presented to him that information could not have been obtained by other means; and it would appear that in Algeria the use of the most inhuman torture to extract information was automatic, so that, so far as can be gathered, there was little attempt to obtain information by less brutal methods. (It might be noted that M. Wuillaume in his Report dated 2 March 1955 did not unambiguously condemn the use of torture, and from that time until the end of the Algerian War in 1962 the use of torture by the authorities was not only endemic in Algeria but spread to Metropolitan France itself). An English translation of the Wuillaume Report may be found in Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Torture: Cancer of Democracy; Penguin, 1963).

7 (vii)  – We have searched for, but failed to find (perhaps because of the limited time available to us), any written evidence from those who have been professionally concerned with the conduct of interrogation in times of war or insurgency in recent years on behalf of the United Kingdom, that there is a marginal intelligence gain to be derived from the use of physical ill-treatment; on the contrary, all the evidence that we have seen from such sources indicates that the use of physical ill-treatment decreases the amount of reliable tactical information obtained. At the very least it is problematical whether or not there is even a marginal gain, and even if there were a marginal gain it would be outweighed by the political losses.

7 (viii)  In the first place, we would draw your Committee's attention to the wider military and political effects of the methods of interrogation used. The use of methods of interrogation which will be characterised as torture by those who have been subjected to them will tend both to imperil the political objectives for which the Government is striving and to strengthen the effectiveness of those to whom the Government is opposed. They are dependent upon the support of the local population; the use of torture gives them a powerful propaganda weapon; their uncommitted but potential supporters identify with the victims of ill-treatment, and become increasingly bitter towards the authorities; the credibility of the Government's claim that it is endeavouring to maintain civilized values is irretrievably weakened when the Government itself stoops to methods which many – including its own supporters at home and abroad – find abhorrent. And the greater the degree of bitterness and hostility that the Government creates by its actions the more difficult it will find it to achieve any political solution whose success depends upon the support and cooperation of all sections of the local population.

7 (ix)  Secondly, there appear to be two separate reasons why the use of physical ill-treatment as a method of obtaining information is likely to be relatively ineffective. The first is that interrogation procedures using physical ill-treatment suffer from the crucial weakness that the interrogator has to give his intelligence aim away. He has to inform the suspect what information he wishes to know, and the suspect will therefore know what to conceal or where to provide false information. Furthermore, all kinds of physical ill-treatment, including those with which we are concerned in this memorandum, are felt by the suspect to be painful, degrading and humiliating, and the suspect therefore becomes increasingly hostile and resentful. Whether or not he possesses the information that is sought he is tempted to give false information, either to avoid suffering from further ill-treatment or to mislead the authorities. A large part of the information provided by men subject to physical ill-treatment is therefore likely to be false and the authorities must expend a great deal of time seeking to verify it, if verification be possible. But skilful methods not involving physical ill-treatment can lead a prisoner to provide, utterly unwittingly, the piece of information sought in circumstances in which he may even be unaware that he is being interrogated. The information so obtained is likely to be true, for the interrogator can see that it is given by the suspect voluntarily from his own experience. The second reason is that advanced by Professor Patrick D. Wall, Director of the Cerebral Functions Research Group at University College, London, in a letter to The Times on 24 November 1971. According to Professor Wall, the effect of the methods described by the Compton Report is to disorientate the suspect and lead him to make a fantasy confession which he believes to be true: "The anxious confused hallucinating prisoner searches for any act which will terminate his misery. These are the conditions under which fantasy confessions are made by men completely believing their own false story."

7 (x)  On the other hand, there is strong testimony to the effectiveness of methods of interrogation which do not involve physical ill-treatment. According to Donald McLachlan, who served in the Naval Intelligence Department during the Second World War:

This [prisoner of war interrogation] is a great art and there are many methods, but the civilized and intelligent method, in my experience, is the best. If you can convince a prisoner of war that there is no point in his concealing information from you because you know so much already; if you can convince him that you really know all about his U-boat flotilla, or his officers or his torpedos, or the wavelength of his search apparatus and so on and that you merely want the odd detail, just to make a clearer picture in your mind – then he will succumb; even the best-trained man will succumb eventually. To achieve that, the man who is doing the interrogation has first to be fully briefed by the intelligence staff behind him. They have to tell him all they know about the man's unit or U-boat, and what it is that they want to know. This technique of briefing was gradually evolved with great success by all services and I think it is true to say that it was the only method which worked.
Donald McLachlan, 'Intelligence: the common denominator', The Fourth Dimension of Warfare, ed. Michael Elliott-Bateman, (Manchester University Press, 1970), pp.62-3.

7 (xi)  This assessment of the effectiveness of "the civilized and intelligent method" was supported by Mr. L. St. Clare Grondona, who was Commandant during the Second World War of the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre, in a letter to The Times on 27 November 1971:

They [German prisoners of war] possessed valuable information of which it was our job to extract as much as possible; but always with proper regard to the Geneva Convention.
So it was that our interrogators (then and thereafter) had to be as wily as they were resourceful. The methods they used were processes of "painless extraction" seasoned with legitimate guile. More often than not a "guest" would be unaware that he had given us useful data. Courtesy was extended to every prisoner so long as his behaviour warranted this – and it usually did. Comfortable quarters were provided, and prisoners' fare was precisely the same as for British personnel.
It is the simple truth to say that if one of our interrogators had suggested submitting any prisoner to any form of physical duress (which would certainly not have been permitted) he would have been a laughing-stock among his colleagues. Nevertheless, the "intelligence" we obtained (all the items of which were carefully correlated) was of inestimable value.

7 (xii)  The superiority of methods of interrogation which do not involve physical ill-treatment is also attested to by Sir Robert Thompson, who was concerned with security in Malaya from 1948 to 1960 – by the end of which period he was Secretary for Defence – and in South Vietnam from 1961 to 1965, where he was Head of the British Advisory Mission:

Well-treated and carefully interrogated, sometimes over a long period, [captured or surrendered enemy personnel] reveal a tremendous amount of information. A situation gradually develops whereby any later individual who is captured or surrenders can then be interrogated on the basis of a mass of information already available to the intelligence organization. This shocks the truth out of him far more effectively than torture. Sir Robert Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency (London, Chatto & Windus, 1966), p.87.

7 (xiii)  Again, Mr. Cyril Cunningham, who was Senior Psychologist engaged in prisoner of war intelligence on behalf of the British Government, wrote to The Times on 25 November 1971 in the following terms:

If the Royal Ulster Constabulary, or indeed the Army, is using the methods reported, they are being singularly stupid and unimaginative. Interrogation by overt verbal examination backed by fear is a blunt, mediaeval and extremely inefficient technique.

8.  For these reasons Amnesty International believes that the use of ill-treatment for the purpose of interrogation is immoral, illegal, and inexpedient. But expedient or not, Amnesty believes that its use should never be tolerated. The only proper rule, from which there should be no departure, is that provided by Article 17 of the Geneva Convention: no physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, should be inflicted on prisoners to secure from them information of any kind whatever; prisoners who refuse to answer should not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.

Footnote Appendix 1:

  1. Article 147 of the commentary, published in 1938, on the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons a Time of War gives the legal definition of torture as:
     "the infliction of suffering on a person to obtain from that person, or from another person, confessions or information."

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