Practice Relating to Rule 90. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
Ireland’s Basic LOAC Guide (2005) states: “The following acts are specified as grave breaches under the convention for the treatment of PWs [prisoners of war] [1949 Geneva Convention III]: - … torture or inhumane treatment; [and] wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health”.
The manual further states that “torture or inhumane treatment; [and] wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health” are grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV relating to the treatment of civilians.
The manual also provides a list of “Soldiers Rules”, one of which is: “Do not torture … or abuse prisoners of war.”
Ireland’s Geneva Conventions Act (1962), as amended in 1998, provides that grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions are punishable offences.
In addition, any “minor breach” of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, including violations of common Article 3, Article 12 of the Geneva Convention I, Article 12 of the Geneva Convention II, Articles 17, 87 and 89 of the Geneva Convention III, and Article 32 of the Geneva Convention IV, and of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, including violations of Article 75(2), as well as any “contravention” of the 1977 Additional Protocol II, including violations of Article 4(2), are punishable offences.
In 2008, in a written response to a question on human rights issues, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stated:
[US] [c]ommitments are also being sought in regard to the closure of Guantanamo Bay and to the prohibition of intensive interrogation techniques, such as water-boarding, that are internationally considered to constitute torture. These techniques are in clear violation of international human rights and humanitarian law. The closure of Guantanamo Bay has been called for by the Government consistently and from an early point and is now the agreed position of the EU.
In 2009, in its initial report to the Committee against Torture, Ireland stated:
Irish law does not allow any justification for the use of torture. The Criminal Justice (United Nations Convention against Torture) Act 2000 Act does not provide for a defence in exceptional circumstances such as a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency. Ireland, in enacting the Act has given effect to the prohibition of the practice of torture.