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Incommunicado detention and torture in Spain, Part III: 'Five days is enough': the concept of torturing environments.
Torture. 2016; 26(3):21-33.T

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Torture is changing in western societies, evolving from pain-producing torture to more subtle mixed psychological methods that are harder to detect. Despite this, there is not an adequate understanding of the complexities of contemporary psychological techniques used in coercive interrogation and torture.

METHODS

The interrogation and torture techniques used on 45 detainees held in short-term incommunicado detention in Spain during the period 1980-2012 were analyzed. The list of torture categories set out in the Istanbul Protocol (IP) were assessed quantitatively. Software-aided qualitative analysis of the testimonies was conducted, using both inferential and deductive approaches to deduce a classification of torture techniques from the point of view of the survivor.

FINDINGS

The most frequent methods according to the IP categories used against detainees were isolation and manipulation of environment (100%), humiliation (93%), psychological techniques to break down the individual (91%), threats (89%) and forced positions and physical exercises until extenuation (80%). Additionally, with a frequency of between 51 and 70%, mild but constant blows, being forced to witness the torture of others, hooding (mainly dry asphyxia) and unacceptable undue conditions of detention were also frequent. Sexual torture was also widespread with sexual violence (42%), forced nudity (38%) and rape (7%). Qualitative analysis showed that most detainees were submitted to coercive interrogation using a wide array of deceptive techniques. This is often a central part of the torturing process, frequently used in conjunction with many other methods. It was found that giving false or misleading information or making false accusations was most frequently used, followed by maximization of responsibility or facts and giving false information regarding relatives or friends. Different patterns of harsh interrogation, ill-treatment and torture are described that appear to have been tailored to the profile of Basque detainees.

INTERPRETATION

The study shows the need to improve the conceptualization of psychological torture suggested by the IP. Key to this view is the idea that we must not concern ourselves with 'torture methods' but with Torturing Environments. The concept of Torturing Environments is defined and proposed as a focus for future study.

Authors+Show Affiliations

SiR[a] Centre, GAC Community Action Group and Hospital La Paz, Spain. Correspondence to: pauperez@arrakis.es.No affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Historical Article
Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

28102184

Citation

Pérez-Sales, Pau, et al. "Incommunicado Detention and Torture in Spain, Part III: 'Five Days Is Enough': the Concept of Torturing Environments." Torture : Quarterly Journal On Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and Prevention of Torture, vol. 26, no. 3, 2016, pp. 21-33.
Pérez-Sales P, Navarro-Lashayas MA, Plaza A, et al. Incommunicado detention and torture in Spain, Part III: 'Five days is enough': the concept of torturing environments. Torture. 2016;26(3):21-33.
Pérez-Sales, P., Navarro-Lashayas, M. A., Plaza, A., Morentin, B., & Barrios Salinas, O. (2016). Incommunicado detention and torture in Spain, Part III: 'Five days is enough': the concept of torturing environments. Torture : Quarterly Journal On Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and Prevention of Torture, 26(3), 21-33.
Pérez-Sales P, et al. Incommunicado Detention and Torture in Spain, Part III: 'Five Days Is Enough': the Concept of Torturing Environments. Torture. 2016;26(3):21-33. PubMed PMID: 28102184.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Incommunicado detention and torture in Spain, Part III: 'Five days is enough': the concept of torturing environments. AU - Pérez-Sales,Pau, AU - Navarro-Lashayas,Miguel Angel, AU - Plaza,Angeles, AU - Morentin,Benito, AU - Barrios Salinas,Oihana, PY - 2017/1/20/entrez PY - 2017/1/20/pubmed PY - 2017/5/17/medline SP - 21 EP - 33 JF - Torture : quarterly journal on rehabilitation of torture victims and prevention of torture JO - Torture VL - 26 IS - 3 N2 - BACKGROUND: Torture is changing in western societies, evolving from pain-producing torture to more subtle mixed psychological methods that are harder to detect. Despite this, there is not an adequate understanding of the complexities of contemporary psychological techniques used in coercive interrogation and torture. METHODS: The interrogation and torture techniques used on 45 detainees held in short-term incommunicado detention in Spain during the period 1980-2012 were analyzed. The list of torture categories set out in the Istanbul Protocol (IP) were assessed quantitatively. Software-aided qualitative analysis of the testimonies was conducted, using both inferential and deductive approaches to deduce a classification of torture techniques from the point of view of the survivor. FINDINGS: The most frequent methods according to the IP categories used against detainees were isolation and manipulation of environment (100%), humiliation (93%), psychological techniques to break down the individual (91%), threats (89%) and forced positions and physical exercises until extenuation (80%). Additionally, with a frequency of between 51 and 70%, mild but constant blows, being forced to witness the torture of others, hooding (mainly dry asphyxia) and unacceptable undue conditions of detention were also frequent. Sexual torture was also widespread with sexual violence (42%), forced nudity (38%) and rape (7%). Qualitative analysis showed that most detainees were submitted to coercive interrogation using a wide array of deceptive techniques. This is often a central part of the torturing process, frequently used in conjunction with many other methods. It was found that giving false or misleading information or making false accusations was most frequently used, followed by maximization of responsibility or facts and giving false information regarding relatives or friends. Different patterns of harsh interrogation, ill-treatment and torture are described that appear to have been tailored to the profile of Basque detainees. INTERPRETATION: The study shows the need to improve the conceptualization of psychological torture suggested by the IP. Key to this view is the idea that we must not concern ourselves with 'torture methods' but with Torturing Environments. The concept of Torturing Environments is defined and proposed as a focus for future study. SN - 1997-3322 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/28102184/Incommunicado_detention_and_torture_in_Spain_Part_III:_'Five_days_is_enough':_the_concept_of_torturing_environments_ DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -