Is torture an acceptable way to extract information from soldiers? Despite its absolute prohibition, an Australian Red Cross study found that 21 per cent of Australians think it’s okay for Australian soldiers to be tortured for information.
While the majority (57 per cent) of Australians were opposed to the torture of captured Australian soldiers, an alarming proportion, almost a quarter, thought it was acceptable. Twenty-three per cent were undecided.
Between June and September 2016, a survey was conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross, with 17, 000 people across 16 countries surveyed. The Australian Red Cross (SRC) conducted a shorter version of the survey using a representative sample of the Australian community.
The global version of this study showed that when it came to the torture of enemy soldiers for information, 23 per cent of Australians saw it as acceptable, while in war-torn countries, such as Syria and South Sudan, that figure was lower – 20 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.
ARC chief executive, Judy Slatyer said most Australians are empathetic for other humans but the survey results reflect a knowledge gap in how Australians understand humanitarian laws and values.
“The global results seem to show that people who live in mainly peaceful countries need to be more compassionate and understanding. Here in Australia, I wonder if we risk becoming numb to the true extent of human suffering and the consequences of war and conflict for all of us.
“Torture is illegal and unacceptable in any circumstances. It has a devastating impact on those tortured as well as our collective humanity,” Mr Slatyer said in a statement.
The Australian survey found:
- 57 per cent of Australians think that torture of captured soldiers should not be allowed, 23 per cent are undecided and 21 per cent thought it was okay.
- Australian men are more likely than women to agree that captured soldiers can be tortured to obtain information. Overall, 24 per cent of men think Australian soldiers can be tortured as opposed to 18 per cent of women.
- More Australians (23 per cent) believe that torturing a captured soldier is acceptable than people from Syria (20 per cent), Russia (20 per cent), China (15 per cent) and South Sudan (18 per cent).
- People aged under 20 or over 65 are less likely to support torture.
What do you think of these results? Do they shock you? Do Australians need greater knowledge about the importance of humanitarian laws and values?
Read more at theguardian.com.au
Read more at redcross.org.au