This issue of the Torture Journal examines sleep deprivation as a method of torture. The editorial proposes that intentionally forcing a person to have less than 6 hours of continuous, restful sleep must be considered a form of degrading treatment that could amount to cruel and inhuman treatment, and suggests that when daily sleep deprivation is intentionally prolonged in a sustained manner for three days or more, it should be considered as a form of torture in itself.
“Intentionally forcing a person to have less than 6 hours of continuous, restful sleep must be considered a form of degrading treatment that could amount to cruel and inhuman treatment.” – Pau Pérez-Sales, Editor-in-Chief, Torture Journal.
There is no universally accepted legal definition of what should be considered sleep deprivation in the context of torture. There are however converging positions from the legal and jurisprudential, and especially medical and psychiatric fields that allow for establishing sufficiently clear recommendations for the international community to take a reasoned stance.
The Torture Journal includes a review of the prohibition of sleep deprivation as torture or ill-treatment in international law and the text of a Protocol for Medico-Legal Documentation of Sleep Deprivation with an accompanying explanatory article covering the development and pilot testing of the Protocol. The section also includes a study carried out in Palestine, documenting the impact of sleep deprivation on a sample of Palestinian detainees.
It is further complemented by an epidemiological study on knowledge relating to torture amongst medical professionals in Tanzania and a case report from Australia exemplifying narratives of Tamil survivors of sexual violence. A Debate section that discusses the standing of the Istanbul Protocol through the case of Mr Firas Tbeish is also included. Finally, a book review and letter to the editor close the issue.
The Torture Journal can be viewed and downloaded here.