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Laws 2015, 4(1), 1-15;

The Study of Torture: Why It Persists, Why Perceptions of It are Malleable, and Why It is Difficult to Eradicate

Department of Justice, Law and Criminology, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, DC 20016, USA
Academic Editor: Jason Mazzone
Received: 15 September 2014 / Accepted: 16 December 2014 / Published: 25 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rough Justice: Penal Sanctions, Human Dignity, and Human Rights)
Full-Text   |   PDF [194 KB, uploaded 25 December 2014]


Why does torture persist despite its prohibition? Scholars, policymakers, and the public have heavily debated this topic in the past decade. Yet, many puzzles remain about the practice of torture. Scholarship on torture spans academic disciplines, which adds diversity in perspectives brought to these questions but also can lead to redundancy and stunted progress in research on the issue as a whole. This article assesses the state of the multidisciplinary literature on torture in counterterrorism with specific focus on why democracies torture despite prohibiting it, how public perception of torture is malleable, and why so few countries are able to move from commitment to compliance in the prohibition of torture. In each section, the article also identifies underexplored areas in the research and suggests avenues for future investigation. View Full-Text
Keywords: torture; counterterrorism; terrorism; human rights torture; counterterrorism; terrorism; human rights
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Kearns, E.M. The Study of Torture: Why It Persists, Why Perceptions of It are Malleable, and Why It is Difficult to Eradicate. Laws 2015, 4, 1-15.

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