A new survey released Tuesday by a U.S.-based research center shows a
significant number of people around the world support the use of
torture when related to terrorism. From VOA's New York Bureau, Mona
Ghuneim reports on the findings.
The international poll surveyed
about 19,000 people in 19 countries, presenting them with a specific
scenario. The group WorldPublicOpinion.org conducted and published the
poll through a consortium of research centers around the world. The
group's director, Steven Kull, says the survey "pushed the envelope"
somewhat by trying to locate people's vulnerability to the argument in
favor of the use of torture.
Kull says people were asked
specifically if they would support the torture of a terrorist if it
could gain information that would save innocent lives, or if they were
completely opposed to torture because it is immoral and would weaken
international human rights standards.
Kull said the results were
worrisome when it came to the percentage of people who would support
the use of torture in the case of a terrorist.
number of countries show some openness to this - 59 percent in India
say they [the government] should allow some degree of torture," he
said. "So a majority in India, a majority in Nigeria, a slight
majority in Turkey, and South Korea is about equally balanced."
says that surprisingly, China, at 66 percent, and Indonesia, at 61
percent, had large numbers of people who opposed torture entirely. He
says that overall, most countries involved in the poll were in favor of
the rules against torture being applied in all cases, with 14 of the 19
nations rejecting any kind of exception.
Yvonne Terlingen of the
human rights group Amnesty International says the U.S. results in the
poll were alarming. She says only 53 percent of people polled in the
United States opposed torture under any circumstances, and the nation
scored high - at 31 percent - in acceptance of torture of suspect
terrorists in order to save lives.
Terlingen said the overall
results of the survey were disturbing in relation to the world's
official adherence to the torture prohibition. Currently, 145 out of
192 countries officially reject torture.
"Against the background
of that strong international framework, it is really shocking to see
that only half of all those interviewed in the poll in 19 countries,
that is 57 percent, agree that all torture should be prohibited," she
The results of the poll are being released in advance of
the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, which falls
every year on June 26.