عنوان مقاله [English]
The historical prevalence of torture, whether perpetrated by governments to extract confessions from the accused or by private individuals for various purposes unrelated to confessions, spans human history. For a considerable time, torture was considered a legitimate means of discerning truth from falsehood and distinguishing right from wrong. However, in the 19th century, attitudes began to shift, and international efforts emerged to address the issue. The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and the Protocols of 1977 prohibited torture. Furthermore, the United Nations General Assembly passed several resolutions between 1973 and 1976, condemning torture.
The prohibition of torture is now recognized as a peremptory norm of international law (Jus Cogens), meaning it is non-derogable and universally applicable at all times, including during internal and international conflicts and extraordinary public situations. Currently, international rules designate torture as both a war crime and a crime against humanity.
Despite these prohibitions, human rights documents typically associate torture with actions committed by government agents with the intention of obtaining confessions. This approach excludes the possibility of torture by private individuals. Some argue that national criminal justice systems can address such private acts of torture under other criminal headings, such as domestic violence or attempted murder.
This article explores whether states can be held responsible for actions carried out by individuals and private institutions. The analysis is based on the review of international documents and the opinions of human rights courts, particularly the European Court of Human Rights.
A key distinction arises in evaluating this crime in the context of humanitarian law and human rights law. In humanitarian law, the main objective is to protect victims and reduce the suffering caused by war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, with the emergence of non-state combatant entities and non-international armed conflicts, certain war criminals remain immune from punishment due to the requirement of government involvement or intent to obtain information or confessions.
On the other hand, in human rights law, any abusive behavior occurring in the private sphere of individuals, even if not strictly defined as torture, is considered cruel, inhumane, and depraved conduct. Regional human rights courts, including the European Court of Human Rights, hold states responsible for protecting individuals from abuses committed by private actors.
The international responsibility of states lies not in the direct attribution of actions by private individuals but in their failure to enact legislative, executive, and judicial measures to prevent and punish such acts. States are obligated to uphold human rights by adopting preventive and punitive measures even in relations between private individuals. This approach reflects the theory of horizontal effect, wherein human rights principles apply not only to the relationship between the individual and the state but also to interactions between private individuals. Consequently, states are responsible for safeguarding human rights in both scenarios.
To overcome challenges in regulating acts of torture by non-state actors, states must recognize new entry barriers and factors unique to digital platforms. Measuring market power in digital platforms should consider indicators such as the number of users, traffic volume, time spent on the platform, and number of visits. Additionally, market definition should be approached by identifying non-linear value chains and determining the correlation of platform components to specific services. By employing new criteria and embracing the complexities of digital platforms, states can effectively fulfill their obligations and uphold human rights principles in the evolving landscape of technology.