Torture is never justified

Freedom from Torture condemns unequivocally any attempts by the new Trump administration to use or allow the use of torture in any form.

During his election campaign, President Trump repeatedly said he would bring back waterboarding of terror suspects and recently stated that he believes it "absolutely" works. Waterboarding, which creates the sensation of drowning, is a form of torture. It was used extensively under former President George W. Bush’s administration in the name of the 'War on Terror' but was banned by President Barack Obama after he took office in 2009. Internationally, it is an illegal interrogation method.

In response, Ann Hannah, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Freedom from Torture, stated:


“The ban on the use of torture is absolute under international law. There are never exceptional circumstances that justify its use. It is always morally repugnant and actually makes us less secure by weakening our moral authority and turning people against us. As an interrogation method it is at best ineffective.

“We know from survivors of torture that they would have said anything during their detention to escape the pain and fear. There are no credible arguments for the use of torture and attempts to create them do little more than legitimise the shocking abuses carried out by terrorists and repressive nations.

“This view is shared by many in the intelligence communities and militaries in the USA and the UK.

"President Trump did appear to moderate his position in a recent press conference with the Prime Minister Theresa May, saying that, although he stands by his belief that waterboarding works, he would listen to his experts if they advised against its use. However, this can only be seen as a limited reassurance given his emerging approach to overruling expert opinion on other areas of governance.

"President Trump’s words are shocking, as are the attempts by some UK political parties to jump on his bandwagon. We urge President Trump to take the advice of those around him who know that torture never works and is never justified.”

Kolbassia Haoussou, co-ordinator for Survivors Speak OUT, says:


“For survivors of torture, to hear President Trump speak in favour of methods such as waterboarding, or any other form of torture, is absolutely devastating. Every day survivors must live with the legacy of torture – physical and mental pain, the sleepless nights, the constant memories of abuse. To understand torture, speak to the survivors who can tell you what torture really does to people.

“President Trump must not abuse his position of power by attempting to legitimise the use of torture in the US and beyond. This is very dangerous and will only promote acts of torture and impunity for its perpetrators.”

Everyday our clinicians at Freedom from Torture see the evidence of how torture is used to silence people and destroy lives. We work to hold torturers to account and protect survivors' rights. In the UK in 2015, we provided therapy for 1,299 torture survivors from 65 countries. If you are able, please make a donation to support our work. Thank you.