Review – The Absolute Violation: Why Torture Must be Prohibited

Of interest to law students, from Western News:

The Absolute Violation: Why Torture Must be Prohibited
by Richard Matthews
Is torture ever a justifiable means to an end? Richard Matthews tackles that question at a time when we are faced with controversy over numerous reports of state-sponsored torture, even involving our own government.
Drawing from a variety of disciplines such as philosophy, medicine, psychiatry, history, feminism and anthropology, as well as survivor and torturer narratives, Matthews sets out to show how public perception has been skewed, and why there is no moral justification for torture.
“If you study torture closely and carefully, you encounter a sordid mess of personal and institutional corruption, wrongdoing as well as the terrible suffering of the victims and their communities. The medical and psychological literature on the subject is hard to read, but survivor narratives offer a rich and essential but extremely painful set
of insights into what torture is and how it works,” says Matthews.
“One of the merits of informing people about its true horror is that it enables them to avoid the facile and false portrayals of torture that we receive from propagandists and from scholars who, all too often, do not seem to carefully study these sources. Consequently, in public debates the subject is a caricature of torture and has nothing to do with its reality.”
Matthews goes after the heart of the argument, challenging the idea that torture is of any benefit to its users whatsoever. This book is important reading for anyone wanting to better understand the recent trend towards the public acceptance of torture, and those interested in actively countering that trend.
Richard Matthews is an Assistant Professor of Social Justice and Peace Studies program at King’s University College.