Fear of torture in custody is widely prevalent among people across the world though respondents in many countries, including India, felt that the practice can sometimes be justified, a survey by Amnesty International (AI) has found.
A new global survey by the human rights watchdog covering more than 21,000 people in 21 countries reveals that the fear of custodial torture spans all continents, AI said in a release today.
According to AI, nearly half the respondents were afraid of the prospect of torture if taken into custody while more than 80 per cent of them wanted strong laws for protection against torture.
However, more than a third of the respondents believed that torture may be justified.
As per the survey, support for international rules against torture is weakest in India, Argentina, Mexico, Nigeria and Peru –- where less than three quarters of people agree that these rules are necessary.
"Shockingly, 74 per cent respondents in India (with China, the highest number in any of the countries polled) feel that torture can sometimes be justified to gain information that may protect the public," said the release.
The statement also claimed that torture is rife across the Asia-Pacific region with China and North Korea among the worst offenders.
"The shocking fact that so many people fear torture –- in some countries the majority of those polled -- should spur authorities across Asia-Pacific into meaningful action... to eradicate this horrific human rights violation," said Richard Bennett, AI's Asia-Pacific Director.
Custodial torture and ill-treatment are illegal in China but, in practice, beatings, electrocutions, forced injection of drugs and denial of medical treatment are regularly used to punish dissidents or criminals, the statement said.
In Pakistan, torture is frequently used by police, intelligence services and the army, in particular in the conflict-ridden Tribal Areas or Balochistan.
Authorities in Sri Lanka still routinely torture detainees, the statement said.