Research Handbook on International Law and Terrorism
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Research Handbook on International Law and Terrorism

Edited by Ben Saul

This newly revised and updated second edition provides a comprehensive overview of international counter-terrorism law and practice. Brand new and revised chapters provide critical commentary on the law from leading scholars and practitioners in the field, including new topics for this edition such as foreign terrorist fighters, the nexus between organized crime and terrorism, and the prevention of violent extremism.
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Chapter 24: Torture and counter-terrorism

Ben Saul and Mary Flanagan


Despite the absolute international legal prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, torture became more prevalent as a counter-terrorism instrument after the terrorist attacks on the United States of 11 September 2001. This chapter examines two key developments. First, the position taken by the US that aggressive or ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques did not amount to torture or ill-treatment, despite clear international legal authority to the contrary. Second, the conduct of some state personnel in excess of their legal authority in interrogating or detaining suspects, even where it was accepted that torture was prohibited. This chapter explores these developments, as well as domestic, regional and international legal efforts to secure criminal or civil accountability for torture during this time.

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