Human rights expert Michelle Farrell to discuss torture in Coe presentation

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2015-03-31 15:37:41 - General

Human rights expert Dr. Michelle Farrell will discuss "Torture in the 21st Century Liberal Democracy" in an upcoming presentation at Coe College. The lecture will be held on Monday, April 13, at 3:30 p.m. in Stuart Hall room 405. Farrell's lecture is sponsored by Coe College, the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights and Amnesty International Group 18. It is open to the public at no charge.

Since the turn of the century, torture has revealed itself as a more vexing issue than the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would ever have imagined in 1946. Then, the inclusion of an absolute, unqualified ban on torture was uncontroversial. The prohibition on torture is universal. States deny its practice. It is generally met with condemnation. Yet, over the past 14 years, in the United States and in Europe, the justifiability of the use of torture in certain limited circumstances has become a legitimate topic of debate. How did this happen? What are the implications?

This presentation examines the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA torture. It uses these findings to ask some difficult questions about the practice of torture and the practitioners of torture. What is torture? What are the links between the purposes of torture and its practice? How do liberal democratic states facilitate an essentially illiberal and illegal practice? This presentation concludes that the practice of torture is revealing, not of information but of the very nature of contemporary state power.

Farrell is a lecturer in law at the School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool, England. Her research interests are in moral, political and critical theory on human rights, and in individual rights and the constitutional order in the face of conflict, political violence and states of emergency. At Liverpool, Farrell teaches security, and conflict and the law, among other subjects. She is co-director of the Human Rights and International Law Unit.

In August 2013, she published her first monograph, "The Prohibition of Torture in Exceptional Circumstances," with Cambridge University Press. The book contemplates how and why the use of torture in exceptional circumstances became such a central topic of debate following the events of Sept. 11.