Torture and coercive interrogation: A critical discussion

WATKINS-SMITH, Dominic J. (2017). Torture and coercive interrogation: A critical discussion. Masters, Sheffield Hallam University.

Watkins-Smith_2017_LLMR_TortureAndCoercive.pdf - Accepted Version
Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (1MB) | Preview
Link to published version::


This thesis aims to explore why torture, deemed illegitimate by the Western world for more than a century, has resurfaced as a topic of debate, and persists despite its formal prohibition. It also endeavours to shed light on the main issues involved in the ‘torture debate’. To do so, it begins by exploring the history of torture; examining how it has developed over time, and how its uses have changed. Next, the thesis provides the context in which the modern torture debate exists in; mapping the change in legal and political dynamics that occurred in America as a consequence of 9/11 and the Iraq war, and analysing how this altered both public and institutional views towards the torture evidenced throughout the ensuing ‘war on terror’. Following this, the thesis critically examines the international and domestic legal prohibitions on torture and considers their effectiveness as a measure for preventing torture, before moving onto the main discussion on the justifiability of torture. The debate outlines the main moral, legal and practical arguments in favour and against torture with particular focus given to the ‘torture memos’, the ‘ticking time-bomb’ hypothetical, and the effects of torture, not only on the victim and torturer, but in a wider social and political context too. It is concluded that torture, despite its ineffectiveness and moral reprehensibility, will continue to be practised in response to events such as 9/11, the nature of which serve to blur the lines of what is and is not justifiable. The result being a perceived necessity of those who hold power around the world to act in desperate times, as is evidenced by the Bush administration.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Thesis advisor - Burton, Sam
Thesis advisor - Marson, James [0000-0001-9705-9671]
Additional Information: Director of Studies : Sam Burton and James Marson
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Jill Hazard
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 10:34
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:04

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics