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K. Roth and M. Worden (eds) Torture: a Human Rights Perspective. New York: The New Press, 2005

Webster, Elaine (2006) K. Roth and M. Worden (eds) Torture: a Human Rights Perspective. New York: The New Press, 2005. [Review]

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Abstract

The stark image on the book's cover potently depicts the violence and malevolence of torture. Black and red electrical wires frame grave and intense questions: "Does it make us safer?," "Is it ever ok?." The image also reminds us that the debate is far from purely academic. Torture: A Human Rights Perspective is amongst the first in a growing list of literature provoked by actions and policy decisions in the context of the war on terrorism of which the United States is the epicentre of a globally-relevant dilemma. The uniqueness of this volume is its basis in human rights. The declared objective is to address the controversies in the contemporary debate surrounding torture, including its definition, whether it is effective and whether it is acceptable. In fact, the scope of this accessible book reaches beyond this into a more general exploration of the issue in various sub-perspectives: historical, coupled with an examination of the current debate; international with a special focus on the US; and legal complemented by moral and other viewpoints. The range of contributors is wide, including lawyers, NGO activists, academics, current and former UN officials, civil servants, a politician and a film maker, giving the book a firm practical grounding.