The BBC's recent global survey on attitudes to torture has produced some disturbing results. 27,000 respondents in 25 countries were asked to select between two competing statements about torture:
- Clear rules against torture should be maintained because any use of torture is immoral and will weaken international human rights standards against torture.
- Terrorists pose such an extreme threat that governments should now be allowed to use some degree of torture if it may gain information that saves innocent lives.
Globally, 59% of respondents opposed torture, while 29% thought it might be permissible. But this average masks a clear division between first and third world. Respondents from civilised countries - Australia, France, Germany, Canada - tended to overwhelmingly oppose torture, with 75 - 80% against versus only 20 - 25% in favour. Respondents from the rest of the world tended to be less opposed, with 55 - 65% opposed and 30 - 40% in favour. And guess which category the US fell into? That's right - the uncivilised world. Support for torture in the US is around the same as that in China (36% vs 37%), though they do have a higher level of opposition as well. Another nail in the coffin of the "land of the free"...