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Resources: June 24, 2011

June 24, 2011

 “The discourse on torture
has changed for the worse…”

The International Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims (IRCT) has released it’s annual report for 2010, the Center’s 25th anniversary year. IRCT is one of the foundational organizations of the anti-torture and torture rehabilitation movements worldwide. It now has 147 member centers in 73 countries on all continents. Yet, as the Report’s introduction says: 

“In recent years, the discourse on torture has changed for the worse. While torture has never before been so prominent in the public debate, we’ve witnessed a gradual erosion of the absolute prohibition of torture. We can see some of those formerly or even currently in positions of authority in powerful countries manipulate the public into thinking there is some sort of “torture lite,” that torture is acceptable in some circumstances. In this harsh climate where some, including a former U.S. President, continue to justify the erosion of the most fundamental of rights, it is our duty to continue to remind the world that notions of the acceptability of torture are as odious as they are illegal.

Torture Journal – Latest Issue Now Available

The latest issue of the IRCT’s Torture Journal is now also available online. Lead articles focus on the reconciliation process in Cambodia, mental health care for refugee torture survivors in Hungary, and evaluating the services provided by torture rehabilitation programs around the world. 

Do Empathy and Violence Follow the Same Brain Pathways?

Ken Pope passes on an interesting news release from the Spanish Foundation for Science & Technology. A February, 2010, article in Revista de Neurologia suggests that the brain structures and pathways which play a “fundamental role” in empathy, are also those most implicated in regulating aggression and violence. Lead author Luis Moya Albiol told the interviewer: “We all know that encouraging empathy has an inhibiting effect on violence, but this may not only be a social question but also a biological one – stimulation of these neuronal circuits in one direction reduces their activity in the other.”
            “Educating people to be empathic could be an education for peace,” he added, “bringing about a reduction in conflict and belligerent acts.” At one level this seems reasonable, maybe even obvious, but how do we square it with the many accounts of loving family men who were concentration camp administrators by day.
            The article, Bases neuronales de la empatia, is available online (in Spanish). The other authors are Neus Herrero and M. Consuelo Bernal. There’s a brief summary in English at the end of the article.

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