Sleep Deprivation - Uses - Interrogation

Interrogation

Sleep deprivation can be used as a means of interrogation, which has resulted in court trials over whether or not the technique is a form of torture.

Under one interrogation technique, a subject might be kept awake for several days and when finally allowed to fall asleep, suddenly awakened and questioned. Menachem Begin, the Prime Minister of Israel from 1977 to 1983, described his experience of sleep deprivation as a prisoner of the NKVD in Russia as follows:

In the head of the interrogated prisoner, a haze begins to form. His spirit is wearied to death, his legs are unsteady, and he has one sole desire: to sleep... Anyone who has experienced this desire knows that not even hunger and thirst are comparable with it.

Sleep deprivation was one of the five techniques used by the British government in the 1970s. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the five techniques "did not occasion suffering of the particular intensity and cruelty implied by the word torture ... amounted to a practice of inhuman and degrading treatment", in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The United States Justice Department released four memos in August 2002 describing interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency. They first described 10 techniques used in the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah. Among them included sleep deprivation. Memos from May 2005 introduced four more techniques and confirmed the combination of interrogation methods were not constituted as torture under United States law.

The question of extreme use of sleep deprivation as torture has advocates on both sides of the issue. In 2006, Australian Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock argued that sleep deprivation does not constitute torture. Nicole Bieske, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International Australia, has stated the opinion of her organization thusly: "At the very least, sleep deprivation is cruel, inhumane and degrading. If used for prolonged periods of time it is torture."

Read more about this topic:  Sleep Deprivation, Uses

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