A special lecture by Dr. Jinee Lokaneeta, Associate Professor, Dept. Of Political Science, Drew University, New Jersey, USA was organized by Department of Political Science, Jamia Millia Islamia on the topic: “Torturing Democracies: A Problem of Law’s Violence” at the Department of Political Science on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.
Dr. Jinee, through her analysis explained the ambit of law and the space it provides for torture within its framework. Stating the nature of evolution of torture, Dr Jinee said:
“The debates, discussions and deliberations post 9/11 has tried suggesting a new framework to deal with torture and tries to assert the use of justified violence and torture as an exceptional case because of the gravity of circumstance. But this is only an act of assertion by state to justify violence as exceptional and required.”
Also, she pointed out the continuous illusion that the state tries to portray where torture is usually assumed to be done by subordinate officers which again wants to direct the debate towards the procedural problem of law.
In liberal democracies, according to Dr. Jinee, there is a regular attempt in the narratives of progress of emphasizing on the decline of torture and its aberration only due a specific incident. However, she refers the relationship between law and violence as that of extreme tension. She quoted examples from U.S.A. where a linguistic shift can be studied that was attempted to destroy the popular understanding whereby the state started using “sleep adjustment” rather than “sleep deprivation” and environmental adjustment on similar lines.
She also pointed out the aggressive hyper legality in play where gaps in law and narrowly defined terms are exploited by the state in its interest and justification to violence. In USA, only severe violence is labelled as torture, leaving many sorts of it unregulated. Dr. Jinee also threw light on the lack of consensus that has always been there in the world regarding the dimensions of torture that must be acceptable in democratic countries.
Dr. Jinee also took focused on the role of medical practioner in the entire process of torture. “He participates not for the detainee but rather concerned with the making the law work and scale violence just at the margins. It is an attempt to accommodate violence within the art of government,” she said.
She further opined that there is a lack of clarity in how much violence is allowed under the law. Moreover the entire construct which always allow the state to justify the violence incurred by it in the ambits of law needs to be understood and pondered over in the debates of violence and torture.
Torture, hence should not just be seen as an aberration or misuse of law but should be studied as how it fits in within the definitions of law and order of the state.