By Janet Phelan
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, has issued a report which gives official acknowledgement—possibly for the first time—to aspects of a torture program that has been launched covertly in the US and elsewhere.
But you wouldn’t know it if you read mainstream media. There has been not a word concerning Melzer’s report in the Associated Press, Reuters, the NY Times, the Washington Post, ad nauseum.
The report, entitled “Torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” deals primarily with delineating the differences and commonalities between physical and psychological torture. In so doing, the report devotes a section to what Melzer is calling “cyber torture.” Melzer writes:
State, corporate actors and organized criminals not only have the capacity to conduct cyber operations inflicting severe suffering on countless individuals, but may well decide to do so for any of the purposes of torture.
In a nod to the multiplicity of reports that the SR recently received claiming gang stalking and electronic torture, the report goes on to state that “cybertechnologies can also be used …through intimidation, harassment, surveillance, public shaming and defamation.” The report also expresses concern that cybertechnology may be employed to torture through ….” medical implants, and, conceivably nano- or neurotechnological devices.”
However, this reporter could locate only two established news outlets which even covered the SR’s report, The Guardian and Al Jazeera. At the time of this writing, the large human rights NGOs, which generally include addressing torture as part of their mandate — Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, Physicians for Human Rights, Center for Victims of Torture — have not given any acknowledgment to the SR’s report on their websites or in press releases. Nor did they respond to requests for comment on the report.
The use of electronic and internet-based devices for the purposes of harassment and worse of ordinary citizens has exploded in the last decade or so. While a few local TV networks have ventured into new territory by running some segments on this phenomenon, this has largely been seen as the dominion of “tin foil hats.” A couple examples of rare TV coverage follow:
When the NY Times covered this issue,