The absolute ban on torture, a cornerstone of the international human rights structure, is today at stake. No one disputes that governments have the right and duty to defend their citizens. Terrorism is, indeed, a major threat and in light of an immediate danger, some rights might be limited temporarily. Yet, the right to be free from torture is not part of these sensitive rights to be suspended. That is an inalienable right.
Many UN member states are not aware of this prohibition. There is an insidious trend that claims the world has changed and the issue of prohibition has to be re-analyzed. Two phenomena have a corrosive effect on the ban on torture. The first is the transfer of prisoners to countries where torture is practiced in exchange of diplomatic “assurance” that they will not be tortured. The second is the creation of an unknown number of secret detention centers. These detentions facilitate the use of torture.
I urge all governments to:
- Condemn torture.
- Prohibit transferring prisoners to countries where they might face torture.
- Prosecute those responsible for torture.
- Prohibit the use of statements extracted under torture.
- Ratify the Convention against Torture and its Additional Protocol.

International Herald Tribune (France)
The International Herald Tribune is a version of the New York Times adapted for the European public. It works in direct association with Haaretz (Israel), Kathimerini (Greece), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), JoongAng Daily (South Korea), Asahi Shimbun (Japan), The Daily Star (Lebanon) and El País (Spain). It also works, through its head office, in indirect association with Le Monde (France).

No exceptions to the ban on torture”, by Louise Arbour, International Herald Tribune, December 5, 2005.